With conference play at the midpoint, we're starting to see who are the contenders and who was along for the ride. I just went through the top 60 teams as per the Pomeroy Rankings and was surprised to see just how strong the Mountain West conference is compared to the other western conferences.
- 9 - Gonzaga - West Coast
- 12 - Arizona - Pac 12
- 18 - Colorado State - MWC
- 22 - San Diego State - MWC
- 23 - UNLV - MWC
- 33 - St. Mary's - West Coast
- 34 - Oregon - Pac 12
- 35 - Colorado - Pac 12
- 38 - Stanford - Pac 12
- 39 - New Mexico - MWC
- 46 - BYU - West Coast
- 50 - Denver - WAC
- 51 - UCLA - Pac 12
- 57 - Wyoming - MWC
- 59 - Santa Clara - West Coast
With so many games on the card today, it's hard to narrow it down, but these are the ones I'm playing:
#671 UNLV -2.5 at #672 Boise State at 6pm PST
UNLV loses 72-70
I've been a big fan of both these teams. Early in the year Boise, 14-6 & 2-4, had it together and was flexing their muscles against good teams, but teams that hadn't coalesced yet. But injuries and some temporary suspensions kind of put the kibosh on this talented Bronco team. Once New Mexico beat them in OT at home, they lost to Air Force 91-80, bounced back to beat Fresno State 74-67, but then hits the skids losing big time to Nevada 75-59 and Colorado State 77-57. Also, Elorriaga, 11.4 ppg is questionable for the game due to concussion recovery problems and guard Derrick Marks who averages 16.6 ppg is fighting the flu and is probable.
UNLV, 17-4 & 4-2, on the other hand, is a team I've touted, but haven't really picked. In my opinion, they've been an expensive commodity and there's been little or no value there. But again, we're at the mid-point and even though UNLV has plenty still to work on, they've generally dominated their opponents. Even in the last game against Nevada, they had the game well in hand by 20 points, then went to sleep in the last 2 minutes to blow the 13 point spread. I'm sure coach Rice gave them a ration of shit over that debacle. When you play in Las Vegas and you miss the cover by 1 point, and Marco D'Angelo is in the stands tearing up his losing ticket, you know someone is going to hear about it!
This is really a pivotal game for both teams. If Boise tanks, then all they can really look forward to is spoiling it for someone else. For UNLV, a win here and at Fresno State on Tuesday would definitely shore up any confidence problems they've had and put them in good stead for a 4 game stretch against New Mexico, Air Force, San Diego State and Wyoming. As I've stated before, the UNLV Runnin' Rebels are as talented as any team out west, however they are a very young team and have had growing pains. Moser will play, but he's still hampered by his shoulder injury. No worries, they done just fine without him.
I like UNLV -2.5 here. UNLV is on the way up and Boise is leaking oil.
#563 Colorado -4.5 at Utah 126.5 ou at 11:30 am PST
Winner - final score 58-55
I wanted to play Colorado laying the points here and might still do that, but the total is the play that sticks out for me. Utah has not had a very good year, however they've played better than I expected. They average 65 ppg, but in their last 4 home conference games, all loses by the way, they scored 53, 59, 57, and 56 points against UCLA, USC, Cal, and Stanford.
Colorado, 14-6 & 4-4, comes in on a 3 game win streak having beat at WSU 58-49, and home to Stanford 75-54 and Cal 81-71. On the road CU is not the scoring machine they are at home averaging just 63 points. In addition, the last 6 games these teams have played have all gone under the total, not by a little by by a lot.
In addition, Colorado is a bigger, more disciplined team than Utah and if Utah has any chance whatsoever, they will have to control the pace of the game and not let CU get out in transition. Colorado is by far the better team here and a parlay is certainly not out of the question, but I do like the under in this one.
#617 Cal Poly SLO at #618 Long Beach State -5.5 at 4pm PST
Long Beach wins 50-48 but does not cover
Not a lot to say about this one. Cal Poly, 9-8 & 5-4, had an early upset win against UCLA which immediately over-valued a relatively average team. They been hot and cold all year. Their wins have been dominant and their loses have been blowouts for the most part. Long Beach State, 12-8 & 8-1, a team that I've faded for the most part, is finally showing the consistency their program has been known for, having easily won the last 7 games and are 8-1 in conference play. Ironically, their only loss came at Cal Poly 79-73 on January 3rd which was a tough spot coming off New Year's. I look for a really big effort from the 49er's today mixed with a little revenge.
In addition, although Cal Poly is 6-2-1 ATS in their last 9 games, they are 4-14-1 ATS in their last 19 road games. And Long Beach State has won 6 of the last 7 meetings and 8 of the last 10.
Lay the points. Long Beach State - 5.5
#669 Santa Clara at BYU -6 at 6pm PST
BYU wins and covers 96-79 and covers
I really like BYU here. They're near impossible to beat at home at they are one of the 3 teams that have beat Santa Clara this conference season, the others being Gonzaga and Loyola Marymount. I'm sure Santa Clara will be for this one especially since BYU smacked them around at home 82-64. Stats are about the same for both teams. BYU's only 2 loses came to Gonzaga and St. Mary's who Santa Clara has yet to play. BYU has won the last 3 games these teams have played by a 15 point margin.
I'm going with BYU -6 at home against Santa Clara
#651 UT Arlington at Louisiana Tech -10 at 5pm PST
Louisiana Tech wins 64-51 and covers
I've got to go with my boys at Louisiana Tech today. I've been on these guys all year and they yet to let me down. This is a totally bizarre game in that the stats will point the other way. One, UTA lost a heartbreaker at home to LT 55-52 in a game they had won at the half, but they had a meltdown turning the ball over 28 times in the game while LT stole the ball 14 times and blocked 9 shots. The other weird stat is, UTA is 8-2 on the road and 2-6 at home. Just the opposite of what it should be. LT averages 73 points per game, UTA - 62. This is the first home game for LT in a while and I expect them to bring the A-game today.
Louisiana Tech 18-3 & 9-0 in conference play
Texas Arlington is 10-8 and 5-4 in conference play
I'm going to lay the 10 points and go with Louisiana Tech