UAB vs Toledo Odds
On the first major college basketball roster, it’s hard to find a better game than this one.
This game is a mid-heavyweight battle between two favorite teams to win their respective conferences and earn a bid for the NCAA Championship. It’s also on neutral ground.
Therefore, UAB is preferred here. Shall we ride with the Blazers? Or take the upstart Rockets for a surprisingly massive victory at the start of the season?
UAB will be the middle team to watch this season.
If Jordan “Jelly” Walker Doesn’t Amuse You…
Can I interest you in some Eric Gaines?
These two people can play incredible when they touch the ball.
Gaines finished off UAB’s opening night win with 11 points, six rebounds, four assists, and two steals. Meanwhile, Geely scored 38 points in just 19 shots.
UAB dropped 111 points in the win. Even against modest Alabama, that’s a Gonzaga-like number.
UAB will drive speed relentlessly with these two guards, but look for the ETSU Ledarrius Brewer transfer. Walker and Jeans can drive the car and plate it up to him, where he’ll fill it up from the depths (shoot 4 vs 5 out of 3 in an opening night win) or head straight for the slopes.
After one year of rebuilding, Andy Kennedy has gone 49-15 with the Blazers over the past two seasons. He’s amassed more attacking talent than ever in Birmingham, and the sky is the limit now that Walker won’t stand the ball handling, scoring and winning duties himself.
I’m not convinced this could be a high-level defense just yet, but the upside is massive.
Gaines slips into Kennedy’s pressure charts almost perfectly, especially after he finished fourth in the SEC in stealing rate with pressure-delighted LSU last season. On top of that, 7-foot, 0, 260-pound Trey Jemison returns as a paint breaker and rim guard.
Opposition to C-USA crimes will have a hard time registering if they are pursued in the perimeter and inland.
Recoil is a potential weakness, but that needs to be cleaned up because Kennedy makes the cut fit.
However, UAB is a powerhouse.
Toledo is like the UAB in that it is a fast-paced attacking force, but it scores through the front area rather than the back area.
Tod Kowalczyk uses his attackers to reverse the floor and sweep it away, then bombard the missiles away. Returning big men Citrik Milner Jr. and GT Schumati combined 116secs last season with a 43% average.
But these front yard shooters are almost a mirage, a sleight of hand that allows wide open driving lanes for Toledo rangers. As the attackers rushed toward the ocean, guys like Ryan Rollins reached the edge and scored at the edge at above-average rates.
Image via CBB Analytics
Rollins is gone, but expect returning guards Ray Dennis and Raheem Moss to make up 19 points on each hole in the Rockets’ backcountry. The two combined for 38 points in a 13-for-22 from a two-point range in the opening night’s win over Valpo.
In the past, Toledo’s offensive style came at a defensive cost, as MAC opponents were more physical on the interior during the tournament. This season, Kowalczyk brought back towering position AJ Edu who had been injured in two consecutive seasons.
In 2019, Toledo racked up a record 25-8 (13-5) and MAC West regular season title behind Kowalczyk’s best defensive team in his 12 seasons at the helm. Mooring that interior had Luke Knapke and Edu backed up.
Edu played only 35% of the minutes that season, but finished with a block rate of 12.2%. He could be the difference-maker for the Rockets this season.
UAB vs Toledo Peak
UAB has the best background area. However, I’m concerned that Jemison and Brewer will be pulled by the sportier Toledo front-end, and the Rockets will cook inside.
Here is where adding Gaines is so vital. Gains are rated at the 86th percentile in permitted PPP isolation (.699) and at the 87th percentile in permitted PPP isolation (.476). If there’s anyone you’d want on an island with guards of Toledo, it’s him.
Moreover, this is a more rigorous test for Toledo guards than Valpo. How will Dennis and Moss handle the best mid-sized backyard in the country? If they struggle, Rollins won’t go through that door.
I worry that UAB will struggle to rebound against the Toledo greats. The Blazers allowed 16 offensive rebounds to Alabama State, which bodes very badly.
There is a chance that Toledo will put up a 25-point second chance in this match.
On top of that, both teams are running at a fast pace, and neither of them flips the ball, so we should see a lot of highly efficient shots.
However, neutral courts are a bookmaker’s dream, with 53.1% at +93 units since 2005. So the total becomes a pass for me, especially at a number over 155.
Instead, I’m going to rely on the Blazers’ throwback performance. I know the better back area will be ready for this game, and I think Toledo is waiting for a little wake-up call against this loaded roster.
Toledo got rid of a game against Oakland and lost 13 games to Michigan State in off-conference play last season. MAC teams are mortal.
The market is also crying out for UAB, with Blazers taking about 50% of tickets but more than 80% of the handle at the time of writing. Smart money will tail.
But if this spread swells to 5 or higher, it will be difficult.