NCAA Basketball Spread: Off
The Mountain West doesn’t get the same amount of media attention as many other conferences, but it is a very good league. Two of its best teams will meet Saturday when the UNLV Rebels take on the New Mexico Lobos. Both of these teams are expected to be in the NCAA Tournament, but there is still a lot of question regarding who will finish at the top of the standings in the conference.
UNLV is coming off an extremely disappointing loss at TCU. The Rebels led by 18 in the second half of that game, but TCU came all the way back and won in overtime. The Rebels allowed the Horned Frogs to grab 17 offensive rebounds in that game, and that really proved to be the difference. Coach Dave Rice has the Rebels running like old times this year. UNLV does its best to get out in transition at every opportunity. UNLV averages 80.1 points per contest.
Mike Moser has quickly become the star for the Rebels. Moser transferred from UCLA and sat out last year. He averages 15 points and 11.3 rebounds per game, both of which are the best marks on the team. UNLV has four guards that contribute a great deal to their team success, and all of them average at least 25 minutes of playing time per game. Chace Stanback is the best outside shooter of the group, while Oscar Bellfield and Anthony Marshall are the best passers. This is a group that shares the ball extremely well on the offensive end.
New Mexico has plenty of momentum coming into this one after beating San Diego State on the road Wednesday night. The Lobos are 21-4 this year, and Steve Alford’s team is definitely capable of making some real noise in March. They sit at the top of the Mountain West standings after Wednesday’s big win. New Mexico’s defense has been the key to their success this season. The Lobos hold opponents to a miserable 37.4% from the floor. Opponents score just 57.7 points per game.
New Mexico has four players who shoot at least 39% from beyond the arc. In fact, the Lobos shoot 40% as a team from three-point range. Depth is not an issue for this team, as the Lobos have ten players who average at least ten minutes of playing time each game. Drew Gordon is the anchor down low for this team. Gordon averages 12.1 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. Five players have at least 50 assists, and just like UNLV, this is a team that shares the ball very well. New Mexico has won six straight games since their loss at UNLV in late January.
The Pit is one of the toughest places in the nation to play, and I think that gives New Mexico a huge advantage here. UNLV will push the tempo, but I don’t think they’ll get too many easy looks against the tough Lobos defense.
Prediction: New Mexico 71 UNLV 63
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