It's a bigtime battle in the Mountain West Basketball standings today as the No. 15 New Mexico Lobos travel to take on the UNLV Runnin' Rebels. The game is scheduled for a 9:00 p.m. start time and it will be televised nationally on NBC Sports Network. Currently the odds for the game have UNLV favored by 5 points.
Tough times for UNLV lately. The Runnin' Rebels are just 4-4 in the Mountain West but could deliver New Mexico's second conference loss with a win tonight. New Mexico won the first game in this series, 65-60, and Alex Kirk dominated for the Lobos. Kirk tossed in 23 points in that game. Both teams were ranked when that game was played about a month ago, but now the Rebs have dropped games to some terrible teams, once again playing down to their competition.
New Mexico currently sits at 7-1 in the Mountain West and has a full-game lead over Colorado State. After the Rams, both San Diego State and Air Force sit with three losses. A win today for the Lobos would almost certainly give them the conference title, barring some kind of collapse.
Many consider Anthony Bennett to not only be the best freshman in the country, but maybe the best overall player and potential NBA player. Bennett leads the team at just over 18 points per game, but he has to start taking games over with all the hype that surrounds him. There's no doubt that New Mexico will be keying on him in this one, though. So who for UNLV steps up? Mike Moser hasn't been the same since his injury but is giving the Rebs some quality minutes. And point guard Anthony Marshall is one of the top guards in the country in terms of assists. If they have the firepower, why can't they play that way all the time?
New Mexico's Cameron Bairstow and Tony Snell each have been inconsistent the past five games or so and are very important to the Lobos.
UNLV will have to rebound from their worst game of the season in a loss at Fresno State. The Rebs scored just 55 points, shot just 35 percent and connected on only six of their 23 triples attempted. UNLV also shot terribly against New Mexico in the team's last game (39 percent). That's not good news for the Rebels because New Mexico has been clamping down defensively as well, allowing just 58.5 points over its last four games.
And something certainly has to give in this one — Dave Rice's team has 11 straight home wins, and is 30-1 in regular-season games at the Thomas & Mack Center since the start of last season. But the Lobos are 8-2 away from home this season.
We think UNLV holds serve at home in a crucial time when they need to win to keep their conference hopes alive. It's going to be a tight one and we like the Rebels to shoo much better in their own gym. Expect a big game from Marshall.
Free Pick: UNLV 74, New Mexico 65
Betting Tips For College Basketball Conference Games
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