No. 19 Florida Atlantic vs. UAB college basketball odds, bracketology: Owls' best-in-nation 20-game winning streak in jeopardy Thursday
Has a ranked college basketball team on a winning streak of at least 20 games ever been a betting underdog against unranked conference opponent? I'm sure it has happened, but it has to be rare. That could be the case Thursday night when No. 19 Florida Atlantic visits UAB in Conference USA action. The Owls are currently -1 but might close as dogs if Blazers star Jordan "Jelly" Walker returns from injury.
Florida Atlantic (21-1) lost its second game of the season at Ole Miss by 13 but hasn't been beaten since and has a three-game lead atop the C-USA standings. There have been a handful of close calls in league play for head coach Dustin May's squad, including an 88-86 home victory over UAB on Jan. 5. Sophomore Johnell Davis came off the bench to score a career-high 36 points for FAU. Davis, who scored 18 points in each half, made 11 of his 17 shots. He outscored the team's five starters by a combined four points.
FAU's 20-game winning streak is the nation's best and the third longest in C-USA history. The Owls are one of only six teams in the nation to be undefeated in conference play. Florida Atlantic and No. 1 Purdue are the only two teams with just one loss. Needless to say, oddsmakers are treating those teams a bit differently. FAU is +4000 at DraftKings to reach the Final Four and +20000 to win the national title, while Purdue is +240 and +1000, respectively.
CBS Sports bracketology expert Jerry Palm currently has FAU as a No. 11 seed in the South Region of the NCAA Tournament and facing No. 6 Miami (Fla.). The Owls' lone trip to the NCAA Tournament was in 2001, which ended with a first-round loss.
Basketball bluebloods Indiana, Connecticut, Duke and North Carolina all are looking up at FAU in the AP rankings. The Owls are a deep team with seven players averaging at least 20 minutes per game and seven different players have led the team in scoring during the streak.
UAB is the defending Conference USA Tournament champion and was seeded 12th in the NCAA Tournament, losing in the first round by 14 to No. 5 Houston. The Blazers were voted as preseason favorites to win the league again but have disappointed at 15-7 overall and 6-5 in C-USA.
Walker, among the nation's leading scorers at 23.8 points per game, hasn't played since Jan. 11 due to a bruised foot but is getting close and did practice this week. The reigning Conference USA Player of the Year is likely to be a game-time call again. UAB is 3-2 without him. Walker had 21 points in the first meeting with FAU.
UAB's only shot at returning to the NCAA Tournament is to win the C-USA Tournament. Florida Atlantic could be an at-large team if it doesn't win the tournament with an excellent NCAA NET ranking of 18th.
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