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Florida International vs UTSA
FIU -3. Total 154.5

So, here we have FIU hosting UTSA in a game that figures to be a track meet. Both these teams love to run and this should be a fun game for both teams who have been recently slowed down by snail like teams. UTSA has played 8 straight games vs teams that are either bottom 15% in pace or top 15% in defense. Prior to this they played Rice twice where those games averaged 167 points. UTSA loves to run and they certainly don’t lack scorers. Jhivan Jackson and Keaton Wallace who both returned from last year once again lead this team with Jacob Germany elevating his game of late. This UTSA team is also far worse on the road especially on the defensive end. I expect UTSA to get plenty of transition looks and continue to not care about the defensive side. This UTSA team ranks 294 in defense per KenPom. Worth noting, this UTSA squad ranks far better offensively than defensively, about 150 spots better.

On the other side, FIU is in a very similar position. I discount the last game against a non D1 squad, but prior to this FIU also has seen some slower teams and/or some good defenses. Here drawing UTSA should feel shooting in an open gym. FIU ranks 100 points better offensively vs defensively and after Charlotte took the air out vs them, I like them to come into this one moving up and down the court. FIU is lead by Antonio Daye who is a do it all type guard and has some good role players around him including a few snipers. FIU’s is by no means shy from pulling the trigger on the 3 ball. 3 pointers make up 41% of their overall scoring and UTSA ranks 308th at defending it. Much of this has to do with how poor UTSA’s transition defense is. FIU will press often. This is why they force a TO rate over 21%, but UTSA is filled with good ball handling guards to beat this press. This press should only speed up UTSA even further from how they already want to run.

Speaking of tempo, there is absolutely nothing slow about either of these two teams. FIU’s press forces opponents to play faster than they’d like and UTSA runs, runs, and runs. I expect nothing short of great transition looks. Separate from this, both these teams foul like it’s their job. Both of them rank in the bottom 20% in free throws allowed by their opponents. While both these teams don’t draw many fouls, it’s hard to imagine with all the potential runs outs that fouls don’t become the norm and both are decent at converting free throws.

There are multiple angles why I have this a few points off, but this is more a spot play than anything. Both these teams have been stuck in quicksand for the past few weeks playing slow teams or good defenses. They finally get a match-up against a team that plays just like them in many ways. With average shooting in the 45% neighborhood, I feel pace alone can drive this over. Of course though, with a total this high you worry about a 2-3 minute stall out being costly, but these teams are so much better offensively vs defensively and sprint up/down the floor that it’s very unlikely. At 154.5, I’m on the over.

JJ’s Best Bet
FIU vs UTSA OVER 154.5 -110 (FD)

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