San Diego State vs. UNLV College Basketball Odds, Picks & Predictions: Value Lies on Total

San Diego State vs. UNLV College Basketball Odds, Picks & Predictions: Value Lies on Total article feature image

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  • San Diego State and UNLV both put their win streaks on the line as they open their Mountain West seasons.
  • The Aztecs are expected to have Lamont Butler back in action.
  • Matt Cox of Three Man Weave explains why the value lies in the total.

San Diego State vs. UNLV Odds

Saturday, Jan. 1
4 p.m. ET
San Diego State Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

A new year. A new chapter.

Mountain West play commences for these two conference champion contenders this afternoon in the desert, where UNLV and San Diego State will aim to get their New Year's Resolutions off on the right foot.

There's been trials and tribulations on both sides throughout the non-conference. On the surface, a combined record of 16-8 between the two squads encapsulates the narrative surrounding both teams.

The Aztecs and Runnin' Rebels have taken care of their business, consistently dispatching inferior opponents when expected. However, neither has been able to notch a sterling marquee resume boosting win, outside of San Diego State's 10-point victory over Saint Mary's on December 17th.

This presents a golden opportunity to get a leg up on a fellow league foe in what figures to be a fiercely competitive Mountain West slate.

San Diego State Aztecs

The Aztecs struggles are exclusive to the offensive end of the floor. Stingy defense is a known commodity under Brian Dutcher's regime, as the Aztecs enter league play boasting the nation's 10th best defense on an adjusted efficiency basis, per KenPom.

However, creating separation has been a challenge against lesser opponents, as has keeping pace with the big boys. In SDSU's three losses to date against BYU, USC and Michigan, it tallied 60, 43 and 58 points, respectively.

Granted, that's a murderer's row of vaunted defenses but the void of a perimeter sparkplug has hampered SDSU's scoring prowess. The absence of dynamo guard Lamont Butler, who's missed the last four games due to injury, is a big reason why.

Per a local report, all signs point to Butler returning to action in this high leverage battle, a revelation for an Aztecs offense that's been stuck on neutral. Cal transfer Matt Bradley and his brawny shoulders carry a considerable burden offensively, so Butler's return would add another jolt to this offense.

The rest of Dutcher's primary rotation is comprised of steady role players and multi-faceted contributors, but are limited to peripheral threats when it comes to scoring.

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UNLV Runnin' Rebels

Unlike the Aztecs — whose identity is no secret — the new look Rebs are in search of their own. Under first-year head coach Kevin Kruger, it was assumed UNLV would make its pay on defense, akin to his father's DNA at Oklahoma.

The roster assembly project this summer supported that prognosis, as Kruger & Co. brought in a slew of rangy wing prototypes, tailor-made to thrive in this system.

However, that vision is still in the incubation phase. The Aztecs' defensive performance thus far grades out as pedestrian, at least by national standards. One root issue is the dearth of imposing size in the middle, which has incentivized Kruger to deploy smaller, 4-guard lineups at times.

In theory, this lineup concoction should pay dividends on the offensive end, but there's been turbulence on that side of the ball, as well.

Kruger has bemoaned the Rebels' shot selection, a maddening flaw of high-octane scorer Bryce Hamilton. Adding fuel to the fire is the amalgamation of new faces surrounding Hamilton, resulting in broad confusion in terms of roles of responsibilities.

The endearing trait about UNLV, which has masked many of the aforementioned deficiencies, is its motor.

At risk of sounding cliche, the Rebels play hard and compete at a high level consistently. This relentless energy can be a weapon with the length and athleticism at Kruger's disposal.

The key will be how precisely Kruger fine tunes the dials to sharpen up the sloppiness on both ends.

San Diego State vs. UNLV Betting Pick

With the reinsertion of Butler, along with the propensity of both teams to attack opportunistically in transition, the over appears to offer value in the low 130s.

Anything up to 133 is worth investing in.

Pick: Over 130.5 (Play to 133)

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