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Abilene Christian vs. New Mexico State College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions: How to Bet WAC Title Game

Abilene Christian vs. New Mexico State College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions: How to Bet WAC Title Game article feature image

Photo by Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images. Pictured: Damien Daniels (Abilene Christian)

  • Abilene Christian and New Mexico State square off in the WAC Tournament final.
  • This will be Abilene Christian's fourth game in four days, but there is no time to rest when it comes to playing for an auto bid.
  • Ky McKeon breaks down the matchup and offers up his best bet.

Abilene Christian vs. New Mexico State Odds

Saturday, March 12
10 p.m. ET
Abilene Christian Odds
-110o / -110u
New Mexico State Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Abilene Christian has defied the odds by making it to the Southland Championship game. The bracket format is setup in such a way as to give a heavy advantage to higher seeds. Whereas New Mexico State played its first tournament game yesterday, this will be ACU’s fourth game in four days.

A win for ACU would mean a second straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament (third straight if you throw out 2020). That’s impressive for a program that has been in Division I since just 2014.

New Mexico State suffered through a tough year in 2021, but the Aggies are no stranger to the tournament. Over the 10-year span from 2010 to 2019, NMSU made the NCAA Tournament eight times.

As the heavy favorite in this year’s WAC tournament, NMSU will look to continue its winning ways.

Abilene Christian Wildcats

Abilene has been white hot since Jan. 20, going 12-2 over a 14-game span. After looking like a juggernaut in the non-conference — handling good mid-major teams and taking Texas A&M to double overtime — the Wildcats lost five straight in the WAC to the top teams in the league.

Since then, it’s been all roses, and ACU has achieved the improbable by knocking off three tough opponents in three days.

Success for Abilene is derived from its defense, specifically its ability to turn teams over. The Cats lead the country in turnover rate and have forced a whopping 62 of them (over 20 per game) in the WAC Tournament.

Experience within the system, which has stayed exactly the same under Brette Tanner, an assistant last year, as it was under Joe Golding, is key. Abilene’s backcourt is essentially the same as it has been the past two seasons, and Tanner plays almost exclusively juniors and seniors.

The ability to create havoc offsets Abilene’s glaring weakness: size. The Cats are the country’s smallest team, playing only one guy over 6-foot-5 meaningful minutes. If ACU runs into a poised opponent that can handle the ball, it becomes very difficult for it to win games.

Offensively, ACU looks to attack in transition, particularly off steals. Per Hoop-Math, ACU ranks 13th in the country in FGA rate in transition immediately following a steal. Defense creates offense.

When in the half-court, ACU runs a motion offense chock-full of cutting and passing. This can be dangerous against an undisciplined defense. The Cats are not a good outside shooting team, but they have gotten hot twice already in this tournament.

Their preferred half-court scoring method is basket attacks — via dribble or back cuts. They try to get looks near the rim or trips to the free throw line. ACU ranks fifth nationally in percentage of points scored from the foul line and 13th in free throw rate.

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New Mexico State Aggies

The Aggies won the only matchup between these two squads this season, and the key, of course, was limiting turnovers. NMSU coughed up the rock just 13 times, which was impressive because of ACU’s on-ball prowess and NMSU’s own turnover struggles throughout the rest of the season.

Abilene was missing essentially its only big man that game, so we should discount NMSU’s margin of victory.

While NMSU hasn’t been great with the ball this season (307th in turnover rate), it does have experienced, poised ball handlers.

Sir’Jabari Rice is a sure-handed point guard, and wing Clayton Henry has protected the rock as well this year. But the main man in the backcourt is WAC Player of the Year Teddy Allen.

Allen is a high-major talent who has dominated the WAC all year long. He’s averaging 19.6 points per game, and there is nobody in the league who can stop him. If Allen is on tonight, this game is over. He can hit shots from anywhere on the floor, wide open or with guys all over him.

NMSU will look to exploit ACU’s lack of size. Frontcourt duo Johnny McCants and Will McNair Jr. can both own the glass tonight and find success scoring on the block. The key for them will be not bringing the ball down and allowing ACU’s guards to dig on doubles and force turnovers.

If NMSU limits its mistakes, it shouldn’t have issues scoring. The Aggies employ a balanced attack and can get buckets through Allen isolations, pick-n-roll sets, the post, back-cuts and the glass. Abilene needs this game to be frantic. Poise is the name of the game for New Mexico State.

Abilene Christian vs. New Mexico State Betting Pick

I think New Mexico State wins this game and punches yet another bid to the NCAA Tournament. However, the spread is too high.

Abilene has proven its ability to scrap and hang around in games as an underdog, and I think the Aggies cough up the ball more than 13 times tonight.

ACU should be running on fumes, but there’s no time to be tired in a tournament championship with a bid to the dance on the line.

Pick: Abilene Christian +5.5

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