UNLV vs. Colorado State Picks and College Basketball Odds
by Alan Matthews - 3/14/2013
Could the Mountain West Conference have more NCAA Tournament teams than the SEC and as many as Pac-12 and Big 12 conferences? The former seems nearly a lock and the latter a definite possibility.
The MWC got four teams into the 2012 Big Dance: UNLV, Colorado State, New Mexico and San Diego State, and it appears those four are set again. SDSU was perhaps on the bubble but likely moved off it with a big win over fellow bubble team Boise State in the MWC Tournament quarterfinals late Wednesday night. The Broncos (21-10) are definitely rooting for NCAA at-large locks to win their conference tournaments and not have a bubble team do so -- like an Alabama in the SEC, for example.
Essentially, UNLV and Colorado State are now playing for potential seeding in the NCAA Tournament, not to mention a spot in the MWC Tournament Championship Game against the San Diego State-New Mexico winner. UNLV hasn't won this tournament since 2008 and Colorado State since 2003. The Rebels are currently a No. 6 on ESPN's Bracketology with CSU at No. 8. The Rams ended a nine-year NCAA Tournament drought a year ago, losing in the first round to an excellent Murray State team. UNLV has made three straight trips to the Big Dance but has bowed out in the first round in all three. You may remember last year's UNLV-Colorado Big Dance game as the Rebels nearly rallied from a 20-point deficit with about 12 minutes remaining only to fall short, 68-64.
UNLV vs. Colorado State Betting Story Lines
Do you remember when Larry Eustachy was fired after a very successful run at Iowa State in 2003 when he was photographed drinking with undergraduates? Eustachy admitted he was a functioning alcoholic. He would land at Southern Miss and turn that program into one of the best in Conference USA before being hired to replace Tim Miles in Fort Collins after last season when Miles left for the Nebraska job. Now Eustachy has done another terrific job, and it wouldn't surprise me if a Big Six conference school came calling again at some point, although Eustachy has said he will be at Colorado State for good.
CSU (25-7), the No. 2 seed in this tournament, has won three straight and beat Fresno State 67-61 on Wednesday as a 10-point favorite behind 18 points from Wes Eikmeier. CSU was a lousy 19-for-46 from the field but outscored the Bulldogs by 12 at the free-throw line thanks to 37 attempts. Senior big man Colton Iverson, a transfer from Minnesota who is the MWC Newcomer of the Year, is the team's best player, leading it in scoring and rebounding, but he had just seven points and five boards against FSU. That won't cut it in this game.
UNLV (24-8) is the No. 3 seed and beat Air Force easily on Wednesday 72-56 as a 10.5-point favorite. It helped that Falcons star Michael Lyons, the MWC's leading scorer, left the game for good with a knee injury not even two minutes in. The Rebels got some great news in that one as freshman star Anthony Bennett was back to his dominating self. Bennett, the first UNLV player to win MWC Freshman of the Year honors since Dalron Johnson shared it in 2000, was brilliant earlier this season but had struggled lately with a lingering shoulder injury. The 6-foot-8, 240-pound Canadian appeared over that against AFA with 23 points (on 10-for-14 shooting) and seven rebounds. It was his highest-scoring game since Feb. 2, and the Rebs are 11-2 when he hits 20. Bennett will be a one-and-done player as he's projected as a Top-5 pick in this summer's draft.
Coach Dave Rice must get some credit for Bennett's resurgence. He brought MWC Defensive Player of the Year Khem Birch off the bench and started Bennett at center and Mike Moser at power forward on Wednesday. Essentially, that opens up the post for Bennett offensively without Birch's big body down there clogging things up. Moser also helps the team's transition offense. He had nine points and 10 boards.
UNLV and Colorado State played two close regular-season games. On Jan. 9 in Fort Collins the Rams won 66-61 as four-point favorites despite Colson going just 1-for-8 from the field. Bennett was held to nine and Moser just two. On Feb. 20 in Vegas, the Rebels won 61-59 as four-point favorites. UNLV senior guard Anthony Marshall hit the winning jumper with seven seconds left.
UNLV vs. Colorado State College Basketball Betting Odds and Key Trends
At BookMaker, UNLV is a 4.5-point favorite Friday with the total TBA, which I project at around 135. UNLV is 12-19-0 ATS (7-11 at home) and 8-16 “over/under” this season (4-7 at home). CSU is 13-14-1 ATS (5-7 on road) and 10-9-1 O/U (5-2-1 on road).
UNLV has covered just six of its past 20 games. The Rebels are 1-5 ATS in their past six Friday games. CSU has covered one of its past six games overall and one of past seven after a win. The under is 7-1 in UNLV's past eight following an ATS win. The over is 5-0-1 in Colorado State's past six overall. The under is 5-0 in the past five meetings.
UNLV vs. Colorado State Picks and Betting Predictions
Technically this is a neutral-site game and CSU is the home team, but let's not kid ourselves: It's held at UNLV's Thomas & Mack Center (thus, on trends, I had UNLV at home and CSU on road). With Wednesday's win, the Rebels are 17-2 there this season but did have a 14-game winning streak in the building snapped in the regular-season finale upset loss to Fresno State. UNLV is 34-3 in the TMC the past two seasons.
The Rebs have owned this series overall, leading 34-11 and winning 10 of the past 11 at the TMC. They have probably at least the three best players on the floor, presuming Bennett is back. If he is, I expect the Rebs to win the tournament. Take them to cover here and the under.
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