This is the NIT Betting championship game. The Mean Green of North Texas will take on the UAB Blazers of UAB. BetOnline is the online sportsbook for this game.
Grant McCasland, head coach of the North Texas Mean Green, might be pointing toward taking the head job at Texas Tech. And if not, some other “Power 5” program. If he’s out the door, that makes the NIT Championship game a farewell for him. And his club will take the floor against the UAB Blazers at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
ESPN2 will televise the game, which is being played at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. BetOnline patrons will recognize that this represents a change in the process for the NIT, as it has always been housed (at least for its semifinals and finals) at Madison Square Garden.
And here is what’s odd about this matchup – although the tournament brought many teams in the country’s major conferences aboard, this final pits teams in the same conference against each other North Texas and UAB are members of Conference USA. If you have heard that name recently, it’s because the Florida Atlantic Owls are in the Final Four and still have a chance to become the national champions. Charlotte has already won the College Basketball Invitational (CBI), which is held in Daytona Beach.
If you look at what these teams have done so far in the tournament, North Texas has more impressive credentials. Over the last couple of games, they have defeated Oklahoma State and Wisconsin, from the Big 12 and Big Ten, respectively, and they literally shut out Wisconsin over the last nine minutes.
That’s the kind of defensive team this is. UNT leads the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 55.7 points per game. And here’s what makes them so tough – they are among the nation’s top twenty teams in defending both two-point shots and three-point shots. So they don’t have a weakness in the half-court game. What they do is foul more than they should; 23.2% of their opponents’ points have come at the free-throw line. UAB is more than respectable shooting from the charity stripe (73.9%).
Okay, before we go any further, let’s give you the NIT betting odds from BetOnline on this championship game:-
UAB Blazers -2.5 (-105)
North Texas Mean Green +2.5 (-115)
Over 128.5 Points -110
Under 128.5 Points -110
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These teams are very familiar with each other. They have already faced each other three times this season, with North Texas winning two. In the Conference USA tournament final, UAB got some payback with a 76-69 victory. That was an interesting contest; UAB got off to a 22-2 lead, and North Texas was trying to chip away for the rest of the game. Jordan Walker, the 5-11 guard who leads the way for the Blazers, had 32 points, but in the NIT, he has shot just 26%. He better perk up again if he wants to be a big factor.
UAB is the tenth-best offensive-rebounding team in the country, so they should be able to earn themselves second-shot opportunities. They have not had much success over the season shooting inside the three-point arc, hitting just 49%. The Mean Green will make it difficult for them to get clean looks.
North Texas’ ability to control the tempo could be a deciding factor here. And that tempo is the slowest in the nation out of 363 teams playing Division I ball. On offense, they hold the ball longer than anyone. If they get UAB playing their game, they can win this straight-up as the underdog.
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