UNLV Running Rebels vs. New Mexico Lobos Preview and Pick

UNLV Runnin Rebels (22-6) +6, 132 O/U at New Mexico Lobos (22-7)
-6, 132 O/U, The Pit (Bob King Court), Albuquerque, N.M., 9 PM
Eastern, Tuesday

by Badger of Predictem.com

Two teams that have both won 22 games already this season, but have slipped under the national media and top-25 radar for the most part
meet in a key Mountain West Conference showdown when UNLV travels to
The Pit to take on New Mexico Tuesday night.

New Mexico will be trying to hold onto their No. 3 seeding for the
MWC tournament next week, while the No. 2 seed Runnin Rebels will be
trying to keep the strangle hold they have on the Lobos (won four
straight and 12 of the last 15 games). Not only will the Lobos be
trying to end a disturbing trend of losing to the Rebels, but they
will be looking for revenge too.

Back on Feb. 2 in Las Vegas, UNLV handed New Mexico its worst loss of
the season in a thorough 79-60 defeat. In that game the Lobos
committed 16 turnovers in the first half (22 total) as the Rebels
opened the game with a 21-5 run and never looked back.

The Lobos also have a bad taste left in their mouths from last years
game in The Pit. In that game the Lobos looked like they had a
potential game-winning 3-pointer by Chad Toppert all lined up, but
Rebels guard Kevin Kruger swooped in and blocked the shot into the
seats with just 0.5 seconds remaining. The ensuing touch-n-shoot try
by the Lobos failed as well, allowing UNLV to escape town with an
85-83 win on the road.

Oddsmaker opened the game with New Mexico as 6-point favorites with
a total of 132. The moneyline at most offshore sportsbooks has the
Lobos as favorites at -260, with the Rebels listed at +220.

Its not much of a surprise that New Mexico is a stronger team when
playing in The Pit. The Lobos are 15-2 at home this year (by an
average margin of 20.6 points), with the only blemishes being a 72-67
loss to San Diego State (on Jan. 12th), and a 70-69 loss in overtime
to BYU the last time they played (Feb. 26th).

New Mexicos success tonight will hinge greatly on the play of senior
guard J. R. Giddens. Giddens is the only player in the MWC who ranks
in the top-10 in the MWC in scoring, rebounding, field goal
percentage, assists, steals and blocks he does it all for the
Lobos. The Lobos rely on him so much that they are 10-0 when Giddens
and junior Chad Toppert - the team’s two leading scorers - each reach
double figures in scoring, but 12-7 when they don’t.

New Mexico is still very capable with or without Giddens and Toppert
on their A-games because the Lobos remain 1st in the nation in 3-
point accuracy at 42.6 percent. For the season the Lobos lead the MWC
in scoring offense (74.8 ppg), scoring margin (+12.0), 3-point FGs
per game (8.4) and 3-point percentage (42.6%).

UNLV relies on it own top two scorers, Wink Adams and Joe Darger, to
keep the Rebels offense on the board. Adams had a game-high 24 points
and Darger added 17 points for the Rebels in the first game this
year. Guard Rene Rougeau is also a strong contributor to a team that
averages 70.4 points per game, as Rougeau leads the team in rebounds
(5.5), steals (2.3) and blocks (1.0) per game, and he did a great job
of helping to hold Giddens to just 13 points in the game in Las Vegas.

Not only will Rougeaus defense of Giddens be important to the
outcome tonight, but so will the defense of the Lobos. New Mexico is
19-0 this season when holding opponents to less than 70 points, and
theyve only done that once to the Rebels in their last four attempts
in the head-to-head matchup.

The Lobos may be under the radar as far as national publicity goes,
except if you are a smart bettor. Most sharp players already know
that New Mexico is the nations top ATS team, covering at a cash
machine spitting 20-7-1 ATS mark so far this season. The Lobos are
also 19-7 versus the total, making them one of the best teams to bet
the over on as well.

The Rebels, playing in the heart of the nations betting action, are
a solid 15-9-1 ATS, including three straight covers in a row
(following a 4-game streak of failing to cover). UNLV is also a good
team on Tuesdays, as they are 8-2-1 ATS in their last 11 games on
Tuesday.

It is interesting to note that UNLV covered as 5.5-point favorites
earlier this year, but that was the first time in the last five games
head-to-head that the Rebels have covered. The underdog in this
series seems to have the luck going for them, as the dog is 7-3 ATS
in the last 10 matchups.

Badgers Pick: Im a bit stumped by the low 132 total in this game,
its screams to me trap game. If both teams just hit their average
(and 29 games into the year their averages are no longer small
samples), it goes over easily. So what I would normally recommend as
a bet on the over and the Lobos two-bet game, is now asterisked as a
bet the over at your own discretion. Either way, take the Lobos to
cover, again, minus the points.