UTSA Roadrunners runnin’ in the Alamo

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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

Saturday

Northwestern State -4.5 at Houston Baptist, Total 177: Of late, State has been speeding up, scratching out nearly 80 possessions per game. That fits right into Baptist’s breakneck tempo, a national best of almost 82 possessions a game. An Over Dream Season for the Huskies, as 14 of their 19 lined games have crushed the Total by more than 14 points a game. Ten opponents have hit triple digits against Baptist, and six have scored in the 90s. Baptist owns the worst scoring defense in the country, yielding an average of 99.1 points, or 1.210 points per possession. 

A month ago, State, at home, rang up 106 on the Huskies. Plus, the Demons are 11-6 against the number; the Huskies, 6-13. NORTHWESTERN STATE and OVER 

North Carolina A&T at Bethune-Cookman, Total 153.5: A&T has been another Over machine, with scores that have sailed over the Total in 12 of its past 13 chalked affairs. The Aggies have been slipping it into an extra gear, lately, averaging 84.3 possessions in their past three games. Also, 11 of Cookman’s past 14 have gone Over. But what the rat really likes about this one is their previous meeting, a 98-95 home victory by A&T. OVER

Hampton at Charleston Southern, Total 152: Hampton features the most dynamic scoring duo in the nation, in senior guard Jermaine Marrow (25.1 ppg) and sophomore power forward Ben Stanley (22.2). The Pirates yield 84.3 points a game, the eighth-worst scoring defense in the country. That increases more than three points a game on the road. Buccaneer Field House will be tattooed with burnt rubber marks all over its court. OVER

Last week: 1-3

Season: 31-27

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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