It’s not too often that we preview a Mountain West Conference basketball game here at Doc’s, but take a look at the MWC this year and you could say it’s better at the top than both the Pac-10 and SEC. Thus, today we bring you San Diego State vs. New Mexico, as the No. 6 Aztecs are one of four remaining unbeaten teams in the country. And just like I (mostly) predicted on Wednesday with Duke against Florida State, SDSU will suffer its first loss of the season.
How the Teams Enter
San Diego State (18-0, 3-0 MWC) passed a major test on Wednesday, winning at UNLV, 55-49, to become the first team in the nation with 18 straight wins – with Duke’s loss that’s now the longest winning streak in the country. That victory was the 400th in the career of Coach Steve Fisher, still best known for leading Michigan to the 1989 national title as the Wolverines’ interim head coach.
New Mexico (13-4, 1-1) has alternated losses and wins in its past six games. On Wednesday the Lobos beat Colorado State, 68-61, behind a career-high-tying 25 points from Phillip McDonald. The Pit is always one of the toughest places in the nation to play, and the Lobos are unbeaten there this season. Actually, the Lobos have won 35 of their past 36 at home, including victories in their only two games against ranked opponents during that span.
San Diego State at New Mexico Storylines
SDSU has one of the better frontlines in the nation in Kawhi Leonard and Malcolm Thomas. Those two combined for 33 boards in the win over UNLV on Wednesday night. It was the first time in SDSU history that two players had at least 16 rebounds and they outrebounded the Rebels by themselves. Leonard is the star and a likely NBA first-round pick. The 6-foot-7 sophomore leads the Aztecs in points (15.8), rebounds (10.1) and steals (1.5). San Diego State is 6-0 in true road games this year, and no other AP Top 10 team has played more true road games.
Aztecs guard D.J. Gay, who is third on the team in scoring (11.4 points per game) and leads the club in assists (3.2), took an elbow to the head in the UNLV game. Gay sort of hinted he had a concussion, but Fisher said Gay’s injury was not classified as a concussion and expects him to play. However, Gay hasn’t been practicing.
New Mexico likely will need a huge game from 6-foot-9 forward Drew Gooden to pull the upset. He had 15 points and 16 boards in New Mexico's win over Colorado State. Backup guard Jamal Fenton, averaging 6.3 points in just over 18 minutes per game, sat out Wednesday with a thigh bruise but should play in this one. The Lobos should have the backcourt edge.
The Aztecs have won eight of the past 11 in the series, including two of three last year. But New Mexico is 25-7 in this series at home and has won two straight in The Pit, including an 88-86 overtime win last year. Under Coach Steve Alford, the Lobos are 22-3 at home in MWC play. SDSU is the highest-ranked team to visit The Pit since 2004.
San Diego State at New Mexico Betting Odds and Trends
The Aztecs opened as one-point favorites with the total at 130 on college basketball odds. San Diego State is 11-5 ATS this season and 5-1 ATS in true road games. New Mexico is 6-7-1 ATS and 4-2 at home.
SDSU has covered in 16 of its past 22 road games.
UNM is 0-5 ATS in its past five games.
The ‘under’ is 5-0 in SDSU’s past five games.
The ‘over’ is 5-2 in UNM’s past seven.
The ‘over’ is 7-1 in the past eight meetings at New Mexico.
The road team is 9-2 ATS in the past 11 meetings.
San Diego State at New Mexico College Basketball Picks and Predictions
SDSU has won 27 straight over unranked teams, but that streak ends on Saturday as the Lobos win this one straight up. The Aztecs are currently struggling from long range. Over the past five games against Division I opponents, they are a combined 23-of-96, or 24 percent.
Doc’s Sports college basketball picks are on fire. We went 10-0 on Wednesday and Thursday and will have our biggest play of the season, our 8-Unit Big Ten Game of the Year, on Saturday. Doc will have a full card of college basketball picks on Saturday and he plans on sweeping the board yet again.