The NCAA Tournament second round gets underway on Thursday. In the South Region the 11th seed Colorado Buffaloes will take on the No. 6 seed UNLV Runnin Rebels. The game is scheduled for a 9:57 p.m. start time and it will be televised nationally on truTV. Currently the odds have UNLV favored by 5 points with the total for the game sitting at 134 points.
Free Analysis: The 11th seed Colorado Buffs enter the NCAA Tournament fresh off defying the odds and winning the Pac-12 Conference Tournament this past weekend to earn an automatic bid. Let's face it, without winning the conference tournament there was no way the Buffs were going to be even close to clinching an at-large bid, even if they lost in the finals. The Pac-12 was less than stellar this season and there's no doubt UNLV would have been the best overall team in that conference. Aside from the assumptions, we must also note that the Mountain West had far superior competition in the top half of the league this year. UNLV was supposed to drop off when Lon Kruger left town to take the Oklahoma job, but all indications are the Dave Rice is doing a pretty good job in Vegas. The Runnin' Rebs had a perfect season at home for the first time since the infamous 1989-90 team that won a national title and ran over everyone. Currently the Rebs sport a team that has three guys averaging in double figures, led by Mike Moser, who tosses in more than 14 points and pulls down just under 11 rebounds per game. He's a double-double machine. But don't take for granted the contributions of Chace Stanback and Anthony Marshall either. Stanback is an absolute MONSTER from the 3-point perimeter, connecting on 45% of his shots from downtown this season. That's going to be something Colorado has to account for or they'll be in serious trouble. As a team UNLV hits for 37% from 3-point range and will look to stretch that defense out for one of my favorite inside presences in all of college basketball — Brice Massamba. If he can get good looks around the hoop, UNLV could impose their will and completely blow the 5-point spread out of the water. Cutting to the chase with the Rebs, they do a lot of things well. They pass the ball well, they rebound, they score a lot of points. Colorado and coach Tad Boyle set a school mark by having 20-win seasons back-to-back, something never before seen in Boulder. Carlon Brown and Andre Robderson both showed how good they can be in the Pac-12 tournament, obviously causing matchup problems for each team they faced along the way. I think the Buffs LOOKED like an NCAA Tournament team the entire conference tourney time, running up and down the floor, rebounding the ball and connecting on high percentage shots. All three of those things will be contested by UNLV's length and athleticism. Colorado isn't a team that rebounds well or scores a lot of points, but it does appear they are one of those "hot teams" at the right time. The Buffs average just under 68 points a game this season and they're going to need all of that in order to beat UNLV in this game. The Rebs are probably still stinging from a loss in the Mountain West tournament AT HOME to eventual champion New Mexico, and getting an at-large bid in the six-seven range for a seed is right where they need to be. Will they be able to ground the hot Colorado squad that's won seven games in their last 10? That obviously remains to be seen, but if UNLV can get up for the game they should be able to win.
Free Pick: I like UNLV in this game. I bet them early, when the line opened up at 3.5 points. Now, I know that line will never become available again, barring some sort of injury to one of the Rebs' starters, but I still think they can cover the 5 points in this one. Colorado has the potential to beat UNLV, having won all four of their conference tournament games and believing they have a right to be in the NCAA Tournament. However, if they can't defend against the three or try to run with UNLV, they'll probably get blown out. I suggest taking the points with UNLV while you still can, prior to the tournament getting underway.
Free Picks: UNLV vs Colorado - Best Bet from Marco D'AngeloColorado shot their wad in conference tourney and UNLV better defensive club out of tougher conference plus other factors college basketball bettors need to know about UNLV at Colorado (Thursday, March 15, 2012) from Pregame.com - Including a best bet from Marco D'Angelo and analysis from Stephen Nover.