- Radford is a 4.5-point favorite over USC Upstate on Thursday
- USC Upstate has lost all five in the season series
- Read below for an analysis and betting prediction
Radford (4-8) is a 4.5-point road favorite over USC Upstate in the Big South opener for both at 4 pm ET Thursday on ESPN+. The Highlanders have not played since a 74-54 loss at Davidson on Dec. 18.
USC Upstate (3-9) has lost six of it last seven since beating South Carolina State 82-78 on the road on Nov. 23. That is the Spartans’ only victory against an NCAA Division I school this season.
Radford vs USC Upstate Odds
|Radford Highlanders||-200||-4.5 (-110)||Over 134.5 (-110)|
|USC Upstate Spartans||+165||+4.5 (-110)||Under 134.5 (-110)|
Odds from BetMGM on Jan. 5.
Both teams are feeling the effects of the Covid-19 resurgence. Radford has had its last three games postponed or canceled, and this game was pushed back a day. USC Upstate has had two of it last four scheduled games canceled. The Spartans have not played since a n 85-70 loss at Ohio U. on Dec. 21.
Grinding Through the Non-Conference
Radford and USC Upstate waded through difficult preseason schedules to get to Big South play, making it a bit of a challenge to evaluate their relative strength.
The Highlanders played at Virginia, Virginia Tech and James Madison during a whistle-stop tour of their home state of Virginia and also played road games at West Virginia, George Washington and Davidson. They lost all six against a schedule KenPom rated as the schedule as 33rd most difficult non-league slate in Division I.
— Radford Men's Basketball (@RadfordHoops) January 3, 2022
USC Upstate played (and los) road games at South Carolina, Wake Forest and Tennessee to prepare for league play. The Spartans’ only Division I win was an 82-78 road victory over South Carolina State.
Radford Mixes, Matches
Seven Highlanders have started at least six games, 10 have started at least one and 10 also are averaging at least 15 minutes per game for coach Darris Nichols, who has started eight different combinations in a search to find an offensive fit in first season.
The Highlanders are shooting 41.8 percent from the field, 288th in NCAA Division I, and rank even lower in free throw percentage, 63.1.
Senior guard 6’1 Bryan Hart leads the team with a 9.0 scoring average in nine games, while junior South Florida transfer guard 6’6 Rashun Williams is averaging 8.8 points and a team-high 5.3 rebounds. A scenery change has helped Williams, who started five games in three seasons at South Florida and never averaged more than 3.3 points per game.
— Radford Men's Basketball (@RadfordHoops) December 19, 2021
As to be expected because of the wide distribution of playing time, six other players are averaging between 7.5 and 5.6 points per game. Sixth man Shaquan Jules, a 6’7 interior presence, is averaging 7.5 points and 4.2 rebounds and is shooting 67.3 percent from the field, He had 12 points and a career-high seven rebounds against Richmond.
Spartanburg Methodist transfer sophomore guard 6’5 Camron McNeil is averaging 6.9 points. Senior point guard 6’1 Josiah Jeffers, who is averaging team-highs with 2.5 assists and 2.3 steals, has missed the last two games with an undisclosed injury.
Upstate Also Searching
The Spartans have used four starting lineups this season, and coach Dave Dickerson has started only two players in all 12 games — leading scorer guard 6’6 Bryson Mozone (13.7 points, 4.6 assists) and No. 2 scorer freshman guard 6’4 Jordan Gainey.
Mozone had 18 points and Gainey had 14 points against Ohio, when the perimeter-first Spartans made a season-high 12 three-pointers. Gainey had a season-high four threes, Mozone had three threes and freshman guard 5’10 Jalen Breazeale added two. Gainey’s father, Justin, is a former North Carolina State point guard who is an assistant coach at Tennessee.
— USC Upstate Men's Basketball (@UpstateMBB) December 19, 2021
USC Upstate is shooting 43.4 percent from the field, 34.5 percent from distance. Junior reserve guard 6’5 Nick Alves, who has started six games, had 15 points in a 96-52 loss at Tennessee. Senior forward 6’7 Josh Aldrich, who has started 10 games, is averaging 5.1 points and a team-high 5.0 rebounds.
By the Numbers
Radford has won all five games in the season series that began in 2018-19, when the Spartans joined the Big South. The teams played on consecutive days in Radford last season because of Covid-impacted scheduling, with Radford winning 63-61 on Feb. 3 and 102-66 on Feb. 4. Three of the games in the series have been decided by five points or less.
Radford is No. 264 in KenPom adjusted offensive efficiency. USC Upstate is 335th. The Highlanders are 4-0 at home and 0-7 on the road. USC Upstate is 2-3 at home, beating NAIA St. Andrews and NCAA Division II Converse.
Present form and the series history are on Radford’s side here.
The pick: Radford -4.5 (-110)