College Basketball Odds, Picks & Predictions for Grand Canyon vs. New Mexico State: Value on Underdog in WAC Matchup (Saturday, January 29)

College Basketball Odds, Picks & Predictions for Grand Canyon vs. New Mexico State: Value on Underdog in WAC Matchup (Saturday, January 29) article feature image

Christopher Hook/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Holland Woods II.

  • The Grand Canyon Antelopes travel to New Mexico on Saturday to take on the New Mexico State Aggies.
  • Despite this being a mid-major matchup, the atmosphere should be electric in Las Cruces.
  • Check out Keg's top betting pick for this matchup below.

Grand Canyon vs. New Mexico State Odds

Saturday, Jan. 29
9 p.m. ET
Grand Canyon Odds
-115o / -105u
New Mexico State Odds
-115o / -105u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Grand Canyon hits the road on Saturday to reignite the long-awaited return of its rivalry game with New Mexico State.

The schools have met just 20 times, and the Aggies hold a commanding 15-5 all-time series lead. However, last year the Lopes swept the series, winning three straight. That sweep was capped off by a 74-56 victory over the Aggies in the conference championship game.

The rivalry may not have the history that some do, but there's no doubt it shares the same intense environment. Prior to the matchup being played without fans due to COVID-19 last season, the game has consistently produced a near sell-out crowd.

Saturday will be the first game in the series to be played in Las Cruces since February 2020. Nearly 14,000 fans were in attendance for that game. And while New Mexico State fans will be out in full force for a whiteout, the Lopes team won't be alone.

That's right! The Havocs hit the road!

The party never stops 😈

— GCU Havocs (@GCUHavocs) January 16, 2022

At least 600 GCU Havocs student section members will make the five-and-a-half-hour bus ride to support the Lopes in their rivalry game. That's excellent news, as GCU will need all the help it can get.

It will be the third road game for a Lopes team that has lost two in a row, giving it its first two conference losses of the season and moving it from first place in the WAC down to fourth.

Wildly enough, the Aggies will return home from a two-game road trip against the same two teams the Lopes faced but had very different results against. NMSU was blown out, 71-46, by Sam Houston, while GCU lost by two. And while GCU was blown out by Stephen F. Austin, 71-46, the Aggies came away with a 72-58 win.

There are five teams in the WAC I would consider contenders in the conference tournament. But it's a deep conference regardless, as nine of the 13 teams are currently .500 or better overall on the season.

Each conference game means more than the last, so who can come away from this one with the win?

Grand Canyon Antelopes

The Lopes have the ninth-highest scoring offense in the WAC (138th nationally), averaging 72.7 points per game.

That is due in large part to Jovan Blacksher Jr., who leads the team and ranks fourth in the WAC with 17.1 points per contest. Blacksher also leads Grand Canyon in assists per game at 4.1 and 3-point field goal percentage at 45%. No other WAC player is shooting better than Blacksher from beyond the arc.

But there isn't much scoring depth for Grand Canyon, as Holland Woods II is the only other Lope posting double digits at 12.3 per game.

That isn't a problem when it comes to rebounding, however. Led by Gabe McGlothan with 6.3 boards per game, 12 different Lopes average at least one rebound per game. The dedication to the boards has paid dividends for Grand Canyon, as the Lopes are 11th in Division I, pulling down 40.7 rebounds in total. They also lead the WAC with 13.94 offensive rebounds per contest as well as rebounding margin at +8.8 per game.

Defensively, few can size up Grand Canyon, which ranks first in the WAC and 20th in college basketball, limiting opponents to just 61.4 points per contest. It's are also seventh in effective field goal percentage on defense nationally.

But wait, there's more! No team in college basketball is better than Grand Canyon at defending the perimeter. The Lopes are holding opposing teams to an NCAA-low 25.1% from 3-point range.

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New Mexico State Aggies

New Mexico State is 16-3 on the season overall, which is just the third time in program history the Aggies have won 16 of their first 19 games.

NMST's scoring offense actually ranks ahead of Grand Canyon in the WAC, currently fifth averaging 75 points per game. The disadvantage for New Mexico State is on defense, where they allow opposing teams to post 67.8 points per game.

On the offensive end, the Aggies can find success around the basket, where they do their best shooting, hitting 2-point shots at 54.1%.

Another area that could be the difference between a win and a loss in this game for New Mexico State is its free-throw shooting. NMST is an average free-throw shooting team, hitting 71.6%. But the Lopes are embarrassingly bad, ranked 352nd in the country at just 62.7% — a number I doubt improves on the road in this hectic environment.

Defensively, the best thing the Aggies can do is try to limit Blacksher, or look to force turnovers. Grand Canyon is the worst team against WAC opponents in turnover percentage. Unfortunately for the Aggies, they've had trouble enough preventing their own turnovers, much less forcing others to drop the ball. They rank 320th nationally in defensive turnover percentage.

Grand Canyon vs. New Mexico State Betting Pick

New Mexico has not lost at home to a WAC opponent since February 2017. Head coach Chris Jans is a perfect 26-0 against WAC teams in those friendly confines. Its conference home win record is second in the country behind only Gonzaga.

But when it comes to New Mexico State, Grand Canyon isn't new to ending long-standing records. GCU are the only team to ever beat NMST three times in a row since it joined the WAC in 2005-06.

The Lopes' 70-62 win over the Aggies in January 2021 ended NMST's 31-game regular -eason win streak, along with their record of 34 consecutive wins over WAC opponents.

However, the Lopes are still 0-8 against New Mexico State on the road. They are hungry for a win after losing two in a row for the first time this season.

They might not win, but I believe they are the better team and have the talent to do pull it off. I think this comes down to the wire in a close back-and-forth game.

For that reason, I'm taking the Lopes at +5.5 and would take them as low as +4.5

Pick: Grand Canyon +4.5 or better

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