Cokin’s Corner, Saturday 1/30/16
Between the NBA and the colleges, I’ve got 107 Saturday games to try and dissect, so as usual, just the free play in this space today. I should get back to the regular format on Sunday. The Friday free play got there as Wisconsin-Green Bay managed to blow a late lead, but only lost by one, so they at least covered the spread. Today’s comp is on one of the better under the radar Saturday hookups.
525 UAB @ 526 MARSHALL
Take: 525 UAB +2
If you’re making out a list of surprise teams to date this season, Marshall probably should be included in that rundown. The Thundering Herd limped out of the starting blocks with six straight losses against pretty good competition. But since that rough beginning, Marshall has done well, and they now find themselves in a tie for the top spot in CUSA.
Today’s opponent for the Herd is the other first-place team, and UAB being in contention for the league’s top spot is no surprise. The Blazers were considered the consensus team to beat prior to the season, and they haven’t disappointed.
I guess one can make a case that UAB’s 17-4 record is not quite as gaudy as it appears. It’s not like this team faced much of a challenge in the non-conference portion of the campaign. But the fact remains the Blazers have been taking care of business all season, and I expect that to be the case again today.
As for the numbers, the head to head categorical comparisons favor UAB. In fairness, those edges are helped by the easier non-league slate faced by UAB as opposed to the caliber of competition Marshall challenged. Nevertheless, while Marshall probably has the better overall offense, the defensive advantage for the Blazers seems fairly clear.
I also see the big game atmosphere being a part of the mix today. There’s no doubt Marshall will be excited about this game and they fans should be totally revved up for their most important home game in at least a few years. But the team that’s more used to the spotlight is unquestionably UAB. Several of the Blazers who contributed greatly in their stirring run through the CUSA Tournament plus the opening round NCAA upset of Iowa State are still on hand, and that confidence of knowing how to get it done when it matters could be vital.
I would think this is going to be a terrific game, and I’ll be surprised if there’s anything resembling a lopsided result here. But I do feel as though UAB is the more proven entity and I like the matchup from a statistical standpoint. That’s enough to get me on UAB side today.