NIT Final Four: Utah Valley vs. UAB Picks, Predictions, Odds

The UAB Blazers have to be wondering what could have been this season. UAB finished runner-up to Florida Atlantic in Conference USA during the regular season and lost to the Owls in the CUSA Championship Game. Florida Atlantic has turned the college basketball world on its head by making it to the Final Four, but most people don't know that UAB was favored to beat FAU in the conference championship game just a few weeks ago. Now, the only team standing between UAB and its first trip to the NIT Championship Game is the Utah Valley Wolverines.

Either the Utah Valley Wolverines or the UAB Blazers will advance to the NIT Championship Game with a victory in their matchup on Tuesday, March 28, 2023. Tip off is slated for 9:30 p.m. ET from the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada with ESPN2 broadcasting it.

UAB has gone 3-0 both SU and ATS in the NIT, winning by an average of 18 PPG. (Getty)

Utah Valley Wolverines vs. UAB Blazers Betting Prediction

This is the most successful season in program history for Utah Valley. The Wolverines were a junior college 20 years ago when they started the arduous process to move up from JUCO to a Division I school. Utah Valley wasn't a full fledged Division I member until 2009, and the Wolverines have yet to make it to the NCAA Tournament.

They have previously taken part in the CIT, CBI, and the NIT (once before), but this is the first time that many sports fans are hearing about this program. With that in mind, don't be surprised if the spotlight is a little too bright, especially with head coach Mark Madsen likely taking the Cal job in the next day or so.

Best Bet: UAB -2.5
Score Prediction: UAB 77 Utah Valley 71

Utah Valley Wolverines vs. UAB Blazers Betting Odds

Utah Valley Wolverines vs. UAB Blazers Betting Resources

Date: Tuesday, Mar. 28, 2023
TV-Time: ESPN2, 9:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Orleans Arena
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Expert Picks

Utah Valley Wolverines vs. UAB Blazers Tide Betting Stats

Utah Valley Wolverines
SU: 28-8
ATS: 27-9
O/U: 20-15
PPG: 77.1
OPPG: 68.1

UAB Blazers
SU: 28-9
ATS: 18-18
O/U: 23-14
PPG: 81.1
OPPG: 69.9

Straight Up (SU), Against the Spread (ATS), Over-Under (O/U)
Points Per Game (PPG), Opponents Points Per Game (OPPG)

Updated on 06/02/2023
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Utah Valley Wolverines Betting Analysis

Utah Valley is hoping that center Aziz Bandaogo slows down UAB on Tuesday. (Getty)

Utah Valley has been one of the hottest teams in the country after getting out to a 3-4 start. The Wolverines are 25-4 since that point with two losses to Southern Utah and defeats at the hands of Seattle and Tarleton State. In the regular season, we saw Utah Valley knock off BYU, Oregon, Sam Houston State, and Grand Canyon, and the Wolverines have beaten New Mexico, Colorado, and Cincinnati to reach the NIT Final Four.

Seven-foot center Aziz Bandaogo is the best player on the Wolverines. Bandaogo is averaging 11.5 PPG and 10.2 RPG, and he is an elite shot blocker that ranks in the top 25 in the country in this regard. He transferred in from Akron this offseason, and he has helped make this into a top 30 defense according to Ken Pomeroy. Utah Valley is allowing opponents to make just 42.9% of their two-point field goals, and the Wolverines rank in the top three nationally in percentage of shots blocked. The perimeter defense is solid too with teams making just 30.8% of their threes.

Three guards share the primary scoring duties with Justin Harmon at 13.9 PPG, Le'Tre Darthard at 13.8 PPG, and Trey Woodbury at 13.7 PPG. Woodbury has been the go-to player in the NIT for the Wolverines, and he is the team's best perimeter shooter at 40.6% from beyond the arc. However, turnovers have been an issue for him as he has coughed up the ball nine times in the past two games. Utah Valley does not shoot a lot of threes, and it will be interesting to see if that holds against UAB.

UAB Blazers Betting Analysis

It's been impressive to see UAB continue to win despite top scorer Jordan Walker's shooting woes. Walker ranked fourth in Division I with 22.5 PPG this season, and he is making 41.1% of his field goals and 38.4% of his threes. However, in three NIT games, he is averaging just 14 PPG while shooting just 28.9% from the floor.

Trey Jemison is averaging 9.3 PPG and 8.5 RPG. Jemison is making over 60% of his field goals, and he has come up big for the Blazers during the NIT with 14 PPG and 11.3 RPG. He has pulled down four offensive rebounds an outing, and he has six blocks in that stretch to boot. His strength on the glass has helped UAB rank eighth nationally in offensive rebounding percentage with K.J. Buffen, Ty Brewer, and Javian Davis also assisting in that regard.

The Blazers are pretty solid on defense and haven't allowed more than 60 points to Southern Miss, Morehead State, and Vanderbilt on their way to the NIT Final Four. Their interior defense and perimeter defense has been pretty strong all season, and Eric Gaines does an excellent job when it comes to forcing turnovers.