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College Basketball Free Pick 

Thursday, February 6 at 4:00 p.m. PT

UTSA Roadrunners at Old Dominion Monarchs

Texas-San Antonio had a rough start, winning only one of its first seven games. However, the aptly named Roadrunners have done a solid job of scratching back by — guess what? — running. 

In the process, they’ve become interesting to observe, as 13 of their past 15 chalked games finished Over. 

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The rodent knows something about streaks, as a dull start turned into a 13-2 run which led to last week’s stubbing of all four big toes. It helps to recite, as a mantra, Clark Gable’s poignant line from “The Misfits”: “That’s the way it goes. It goes the other way too; don’t forget that.” 

Fourth-year Runners coach Steve Henson, a Lon Kruger disciple, had almost returned his troops to sea level, but three chances to get to .500 have resulted in losses. UTSA (10-13, 4-6 in Conference USA) has dropped four of its past six.

Henson does feature the dangerous junior guards Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace, who averaged a combined 43.1 points a game last season. In 2019-20, through the weekend’s games, the pair has become even more prolific.

With 26.3 points a game, Jackson is the nation’s No. 2 scorer. The Puerto Rico native has averaged 28.4 over his past nine. He’s a whisker off last season’s pace of taking 40 percent of his team’s shots when he’s on the court, which led the country.

Gunner extraordinaire Wallace from Dallas averages 18.5 points. But over his past six that’s been 23.8.

The terrible start can be attributed to poor shooting, lowlighted by a horrible team touch of 26.8 percent beyond the 3-point arc over those first six defeats. UTSA, like most teams, plays well when it shoots well, but Henson’s lads might take the theme to the extreme. 

Only 20 teams have jacked more bombs from long range this season than UTSA’s average of 27.1. The Runners rely even more on long-distance luck on the road, where only six teams have averaged more moon launches away from home than their 29.2. 

There are no rodent tarot cards to guess whether San Antonio (10-13, 4-6 in Conference USA) can regroup to finish with a winning record, or go on a streak in the league tournament to gain a fifth NCAA Tournament bid in program history.

The sole concern here is points. If either Luka Barišić, a junior forward from Croatia, or Aussie senior forward Atem Bior can complement the Jackson-Wallace onslaught with a double-digit output on Thursday night at Old Dominion, another UTSA Over will be solidified.

Veteran Vegas oddsmaker Kenny White, as he does with below selections, installs Old Dominion as a 6-point favorite, with a Total of 143. The Monarchs have averaged 70 points over their past seven, so they should enjoy UTSA’s invitation to a track meet. OVER

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About the Author

Rob Miech

Veteran sportswriter Rob Miech covers soccer and does features for Gaming Today. He has written about college hoops for the Las Vegas Sun, CBS SportsLine and the Pasadena Star-News. He is the author of four books, including Sports Betting for Winners.

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