Nevada vs. Wyoming College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions: Can Cowboys Keep Mountain West Hopes Alive? (Saturday, February 26)
Aaron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images. Pictured: Graham Ike (33) and Hunter Maldonado (24).
- The Nevada Wolf Pack and Wyoming Cowboys meet on Saturday night in Laramie for a good ol' fashioned Mountain West basketball tilt.
- Nevada's season has largely gone awry compared to preseason expectations, while Wyoming is still clawing tooth-and-nail to earn the right to represent the Mountain West in March.
- College basketball betting analyst Tanner McGrath delivers his comrpehensive breakdown for tonight's game between the Wolf Pack and Cowboys, which includes updated odds and his recommendation for how to bet this under-the-radar gem on Saturday night.
Nevada vs. Wyoming Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
KenPom ranks every conference by the AdjEM of a team that's expected to go .500 in conference play. Predictably, the six power conferences are at the top.
However, in seventh is the Mountain West. The difference between the MWC and the fifth-ranked Pac-12 is a measly .29 efficiency points.
This is a really talented conference. And that brings us to Nevada and Wyoming.
Nevada is just 6-9 in conference play this season, but it's won three of its last four games. The Wolf Pack have wins over Fresno State and Utah State on the season.
Meanwhile, Wyoming is one of the nation's favorite college basketball teams. Hunter Maldanado and Graham Ike deserve all the hype they're getting.
But with just three games left on the schedule, can Wyoming make up a two-game deficit on Boise State for the regular-season title?
First, the Cowboys will have to beat the Wolf Pack.
It's worth zeroing in on Grant Sherfield.
The junior point guard is currently 10th among all D-I players in assist rate (38.9%) and is leading the MWC in assists per game (6.5). He's also been particularly good at getting to the line, picking up 5.4 FTA per game over his last five and hitting them at a nearly 90% clip.
The Wolfpack will also run the pick-and-roll a lot — at a top-50 rate nationally –and Sherfield is the ball-handler in over 60% of those sets. He'll generally play the two-man game with 7-foot center Will Baker, who hasn't been quite as efficient as the roll-man, but the two make a formidable combination nonetheless.
Sherfield just knows how to run the Nevada offense and knows where to go with the ball. Baker is hitting nearly 40% of his 3-point attempts as a stretch center — and Nevada pick-and-pops can be deadly — but Sherfield is short on options outside of that, as Nevada is ninth in the MWC in 3-point percentage.
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Nevada can be frisky guarding on-ball, but the Pack does everything else wrong. Nevada doesn't rebound well, allows a ton of 3-point attempts and is poor rotating to those spot-up shooters.
Perhaps the Wolf Pack have been a little unlucky. They have one-possession losses against San Francisco and San Diego State, and their conference-only 3-point defense mark seems like it could use regression.
But ShotQuality projects zero positive or negative regression for Nevada. Sherfield can carry the team to wins, but I don't see a high ceiling for Nevada in March.
Meanwhile, Wyoming has one of the highest ceilings in college basketball.
The 22-5 Cowboys lead the Mountain West in offensive efficiency and eFG%. Nobody works through the post more than Wyoming, as 34.3% of the Cowboys field-goal attempts are in the paint — more than 99% of D-I teams.
The Cowboys generally run the offense through Ike but can also have Maldanado post-up other guards. Either way, Wyoming is top-25 nationally in FG% both at the rim and in the paint.
Another bonus of playing in the paint so much is drawing fouls. The Cowboys are second in the MWC in free-throw rate and pace the conference free-throw percentage. The Cowboys can always get to the line in crunch-time situations.
Defensively, it's a mixed bag. The Cowboys are solid defending shots, ranking third in the conference in eFG% allowed. And they don't allow free-throws, pacing the conference in opponent free-throw rate.
But the Cowboys don't force turnovers in any facet, ranking dead last in the MWC in both block rate and steal rate. Plus, the mid-range and paint defense has been lackadaisical at best.
A guy like Colorado State's David Roddy can take advantage of those weaknesses. And Roddy did last game against Wyoming, dropping 26 points and 11 rebounds in a convincing 14-point win.
That was Wyoming's second loss in three games. So, the Cowboys could use a bounce-back game.
Nevada vs. Wyoming Betting Pick
Wyoming should get its bounce-back win here.
Nevada doesn't really have a player that can take advantage of the gaps in the Wyoming defense. Sherfield will run right into Maldanado, while Baker will run right into Ike.
It will come down to Desmon Cambridge, the shooting guard who is second on the Wolf Pack in scoring. But at 6-foot-4, I don't think he has the size to really attack the Wyoming wings — the Cowboys will have three players at 6-foot-5 or taller to throw at Cambridge.
I think this is setting up to be a blowout. KenPom projects this as a nine-point Wyoming win and I'd be willing to play it up to -10.