Southern Miss vs. UNLV College Basketball Odds, Picks
Pictured: Southern Miss Golden Eagles guard Mo Arnold. (Photo by Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
- A pair of one-less teams go head-to-head as Southern Miss takes on UNLV.
- The Runnin Rebels appear to be the better team, but the Golden Eagles have already pulled off a pair of upsets this season.
- Keg digs into the odds and offers up a betting pick below.
Southern Miss vs. UNLV Odds
Thursday night will be the last non-conference opportunity for Southern Miss and UNLV, two teams that have shattered preseason expectations.
Before the season, the Golden Eagles were picked to finish 13th (out of 14) in the Sun Belt Coaches Poll. Mountain West coaches, meanwhile, projected UNLV to finish sixth.
With just one game left before these teams enter conference play, Southern Miss sits atop the Sun Belt standings and UNLV is second in the Mountain West, trailing New Mexico.
The Runnin' Rebels are looking to bounce back against Southern Miss. UNLV saw its undefeated season end last time out in a 75-73 loss to San Francisco. The Rebels are eight-point favorites, but don't let that fool you.
Southern Miss has already won outright twice on the road — against Vanderbilt and Liberty — as a double-digit underdog this season. Can the Golden Eagles end non-conference play on a high-note and pull off a third upset?
Many believed Jay Ladner was the man to lead his alma mater back to the promised land when he arrived in 2019, but doubt began to build in Hattiesburg after the Golden Eagles went 24-65 (10-43 in conference) in his first three seasons.
Now in his fourth season, Ladner has the Golden Eagles off to their best start since M.K. Turk, who coached Ladner during his time in Hattiesburg, retired. The 11-1 start stems from a team that works well together at both ends of the floor.
The Golden Eagles rank 57th per KenPom in effective field goal percentage and are 76th on defense, holding teams to an effective FG% of 46.8%. And while the big man from Chile, Felipe Haase, is the team's leader, eight players are a factor in 17% of possessions or more.
Defensively, Southern Miss has been on a different level and ranks 34th in the nation, holding teams to just 62.1 points per game. The Golden Eagles are also averaging 9.2 steals per game (24th) and 43rd in turnovers forced per game.
They've been even more impressive in limiting turnovers at the offensive end, giving up just 10.8 per game. That'll be crucial against the Rebels, who are the second-best team in the nation at forcing turnovers, averaging 20.6 per contest. UNLV also sees 26.75% of its scoring come from points off turnovers.
Equally important against UNLV will be how Southern Miss performs and defends on the perimeter. The Golden Eagles are coming off back-to-back games in which they hit 14 or more three-pointers. Similarly, UNLV has been lighting it up from deep, hitting 42.5% of its threes over the past five games.
The Rebels are remarkably similar to the Golden Eagles in various ways. Both teams have found success forcing turnovers and shooting from three-point range. Additionally, they've both had surprisingly impressive starts to their seasons.
Despite the similarities, it is likely the differences that'll decide this game. One area of concern for the Rebels will be their rebounding. Not only does UNLV allow opposing teams to rack up 9.8 offensive rebounds per game, but Southern Miss averages 10.1 offensive rebounds and 14.7 second-chance points per game.
The turnover battle could go either way as both teams rank well in both forcing and limiting turnovers. However, the Rebels will have a couple advantages given their strength off the bench and ability to draw fouls.
UNLV receives 26 points per game off its bench. However, in the past five games, the bench has been a deciding factor, putting up 36 points per game. And while both UNLV and Southern Miss have consistently avoided foul trouble, UNLV clearly holds an advantage in drawing fouls.
Elijah Harkless and Keshon Gilbert are drawing more than four fouls per game for the Rebels. As a team, UNLV is 53rd in the nation, drawing 19.1 fouls per game, while averaging 21.4 free-throw attempts per contest.
Southern Miss vs. UNLV Betting Pick
Both teams have just one loss on the season, but UNLV has faced undoubtedly tougher competition. Six of the Golden Eagles' 11 wins have come against non-D1 teams or teams ranked outside the top 300, per KenPom.
Despite the lack of competition, I don't expect the Rebels to see continued success regarding points off of turnovers or points off the fast break against Southern Miss.
The Golden Eagles should also be able to find success off the glass and make the most of that via second-chance points.
I'm backing Southern Miss at +8 or better.