UTSA at FIU (-3)
FIU was on a seven-game losing streak going from 8-3 to 8-10 on the season before beating non-DI Florida Memorial. FIU's main problem was health. The Panthers were missing three main players for a substantial stretch, and in the last tune-up game, two players returned.
Antonio Daye led the team with 18 points and nine assists in 29 minutes and Eric Lovett scored six points and grabbed three rebounds in 20 minutes. Daye is the catalyst for this team, and he averages 17.5 points (1st), 5.2 assists (1st), 3.8 rebounds (3rd), 31.7 minutes per game (1st) and a team-high usage rate (33.0%).
Daye missed the last two games versus Charlotte, an 63-55 OT loss and 68-65 loss the following night. With him, one or both of those games could be victories. Lovett is fourth on the team in minutes (26.2) and third on the team in points per game (11.6). He missed four games, and the team went 0-4 SU without him - he is one of three double-digit per game scorers for FIU.
The second-leading scorer is Radshad Davis (13.3 PPG), and he has not played since Jan. 14. He did not play in last season's meeting, but Lovett and Daye did, giving me comfort with the Panthers in this matchup.
FIU has won two of the last three meetings with UTSA and two of the previous three in Florida. On the season, UTSA is 0-8 SU and ATS with a -12.9 cover margin when away from San Antonio. Overall, in the last 17 games, UTSA is 4-12-1 ATS and 1-6-1 in the previous eight games following a SU loss. UTSA won three straight games over Southern Miss (twice) and UTEP before losing to UTEP the following night by 18.
FIU leads the country with 615 three-pointers attempted this season. FIU also ranks second in the nation with 11.2 threes made per game and 213 on the season. The Panthers are fourth in the conference with 36.4% from three. UTSA is 308th in the nation in defensive three-point percentage (37.6%) per Kenpom. FIU is at 34.0% on the season offensively from deep, 149th in the country.
FIU ranks fourth in the country with 174 steals, which will be a crucial factor in today's matchup. UTSA holds an offensive turnover percentage of 15.9%, ranking 34th in the country but defensively, ranked 250th at 17.7%. If FIU can force turnovers and convert triples with Daye and Lovett back in the lineup, I like the Panthers to squeak out a victory and cover.
Game Pick: FIU -3 (1u) - play up to -4
Top Four Games to Bet This Weekend
Alabama at Missouri - Saturday 12 PM ET
Alabama is an undefeated 10-0 in SEC play this season and has a tough road test with Missouri to kick off Saturday. Mizzou is 7-1 at home SU this season, the only loss coming by 20 points to Tennessee. The Vols held the Tigers to 53 points, and Alabama may not do that, but they can certainly put up points on anyone.
Mizzou beat Alabama 69-50 last season, and a win here would give the Tigers back-to-back wins over the Crimson Tide for the first time since Jan. 8, 2013, and Jan. 18, 2014. Alabama certainly is scoring more than 50 points this time around. The Crimson Tide have only scored 70 or fewer points three times this season, and they are 0-3 SU in those games. If Missouri wants to win, they must play elite defense, something they have at home in three of the last four games.
The Tigers held four of their last six overall opponents (game played anywhere) under 75 points and are 5-1 SU in that stretch. Mizzou is now 4-0 in games decided by five or fewer points this season, and they have held opponents to fewer than 80 points in 20 of the last 22 games.
Is this the game Alabama falls in SEC play? Maybe, but Missouri covering does sound tempting at home if the line falls +5 or higher.
Wisconsin at Illinois - Saturday 2:30 PM ET
Wisconsin owns the all-time series lead at 16-4, a pretty decisive mark between two conference opponents. Illinois won last season 71-70 in Madison, WI, so expect the Badgers to have a reason to repay the favor this season.
Wisconsin won 15 straight games over Illinois before that win, so betting on this matchup is tricky. History sides with Wisconsin, and the talent levels are not far off this season. Wisconsin has won the previous five games in Illinois by eight or more points, and the last games decided by six-points or less was in Illinois, was in 2014.
Wisconsin is coming off a back-to-back split with Penn State, while Illinois has strung three wins together. A win for Illinois would tie their longest winning streak of the season and the first time beating Wisconsin in back-to-back games since 2009-10 and 2010-11. Illinois will likely be -2.5 favorites or higher and the public play being the home team in the Big Ten, but Wisconsin could be the sharp play with a good shot at an outright win.
Texas at Oklahoma State - Saturday 3 PM ET
This is a matchup everyone wants to see. The Longhorns have lost two straight games and three of the last four, while Oklahoma State won two straight before losing a heart-breaker to TCU in the previous contest.
Texas has been one of the better road teams in the country. Texas is 5-0 away from Austin, and 2-0 in true road games with two ranked wins over Kansas and West Virginia. Texas is 3-0 on neutral court sites and lost all four games at home this season.
The two teams have split the series the last four seasons, and Texas won the first meeting 77-74. Texas will likely be favored by -2 or -3. Expect a close game and do not count out the home dogs in Oklahoma State led by Cade Cunningham, Rondel Walker and Isaac Likekele.
Iowa at Indiana - Sunday 12 PM ET
Iowa is coming off a loss to Ohio State and is now losers in three of the last four games. The Hawkeyes are on a major slide, and now they travel to Indiana versus a sliding Hoosiers squad.
Indiana has lost three of the last four games, all home contests. Iowa is 3-2 SU on the season away from home. Indiana beat Iowa the previous season and three of the last five, also losing two games by six or fewer points. Iowa is playing their worst ball of the season defensively, and Indiana has scored at least 69 points in six straight games entering this matchup.
A look at Indiana's Team Total could be a good bet backing the home team versus a lousy defense that they have found success against the last three seasons.