New Mexico at San Diego State Picks and College Basketball Odds
by Robert Ferringo - 1/26/2013
Quick: name me the top three college basketball conferences in the country.
I am willing to bet – because that’s what I do – that you forgot about The Mountain West.
According to the RPI, the most commonly referenced tool for gauging college basketball strength, the Mountain West Conference it he second-best conference in the country. Ken Pomeroy, one of the most well respected statisticians in the sport, has the Mountain West Conference as the No. 3-ranked conference in the country, behind only the Big Ten and the Big East.
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Believe it or not, but the Mountain West is for real. And two of the conference’s best teams, No. 17 New Mexico and No. 25 San Diego State, are lining up for a huge game at 4 p.m. on Saturday in California.
Here is a breakdown of one of this weekend’s top matchups:
New Mexico at San Diego State Betting Story Lines
New Mexico is the only remaining undefeated team in the one of the top leagues in the country. They are off to a solid 4-0 start and head to Aztec Court with a robust 17-2 record on the season. The Lobos have earned that mark, too, scoring nonconference wins over Connecticut, USC and at Cincinnati, while also beating other quality mid-major teams like New Mexico State (twice), Valpo, Davidson and George Mason.
Kendall Williams leads the Lobos with 14.1 points per game. The junior point guard is a big-game player that has hit double-figures in seven of his last eight games. Tony Snell lends support on the wing, and seven-foot sophomore center Alex Kirk is a beast down low.
The X-Factor for this team is sophomore Hugh Greenwood. The Aussie sophomore is one of the savviest players on the West Coast. His numbers don’t jump off the page – 7.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists – but he is a key starter, and when he plays well (12-7 against Connecticut, 17 against USC, and eight assists against Cincinnati) the Lobos seem to play well.
San Diego State was the preseason favorite to win the league title but has started off just 3-2 in Mountain play. They do have a nice nonconference win over UCLA, and they also beat USC. However, this team lost its two biggest nonconference battles against Syracuse and Arizona. I suppose there is no shame there, though, since those are two Top 10 teams.
San Diego State has an experienced roster and one of the best players in the conference in junior wing Jamaal Franklin. He averages 17.8 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists per gameand can carry this team.
The key for the Aztecs is going to be the play of the rest of the backcourt. Senior and three-year starter Chase Tapley averages 15 per game and is the team’s best shooter. But junior point guard Xavier Thames has been struggling through a back injury and hasn’t been himself over the past several weeks. He has averaged only four points and 22 minutes in the last two games, and he was held out of SDSU’s loss at Wyoming last Saturday.
Without Thames, the Aztecs have been shaky. They lost to UNLV at home and then scored just 45 points in a loss at Wyoming.
This game will have a lot of eyes as the mainstream media grudgingly accepts that there is some really good basketball being played west of the Mississippi. But it might not be a thing of beauty. New Mexico wins thanks to its length and defense and is No. 67 in the country in points allowed and No. 55 in field goal defense. The Aztecs play the same way and are No. 49 in scoring and No. 32 in defense.
New Mexico at San Diego State Betting Odds and Key Trends
The spread opened with San Diego State as a three-point home favorite. No total was available as of our deadline, but I can project that the line will be around 131.5.
The road team has been the play in this matchup, with the visitor going 16-5 ATS in the last 21 meetings. Also, New Mexico has played very well in San Diego, going 9-1 ATS in their last 10 meetings they have had at Aztec Court. New Mexico is 20-6 ATS in its last 26 conference games, and they are 34-16-2 ATS in their last 52 games overall. The Lobos are 5-1 ATS in their last six road games.
San Diego State has done its best work on the weekends, going 45-19-1 ATS in its last 65 Saturday games. They are also 39-19-1 ATS in their last 59 games against a team with a winning record. However, they are just 2-6 ATS in their last eight home games, and they are just 1-4 ATS at home against a team with a winning road record.
New Mexico at San Diego State Picks and Betting Predictions
I like the Lobos in this one. They have won four straight and have been sharp doing it, beating UNLV at home while also taking down very good Colorado State and Boise State clubs. San Diego State has been all over the map. They barely held off Fresno State, needed overtime to beat Colorado State, was slapped around by UNLV and Wyoming, and then bounced back with a big win in Nevada. However, watching that game against the overmatched Wolfpack, it was closer than it should’ve been in the second half. And SDSU just doesn’t look right. New Mexico has those tough road wins at Cincinnati and at Boise State, and they actually won here last year as well. I think they are the better team getting the points, and I would take my chances with that.
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