Friday College Basketball Odds, Picks & Predictions: UNLV Runnin’ Rebels vs. Colorado State Rams Betting Preview

Friday College Basketball Odds, Picks & Predictions: UNLV Runnin’ Rebels vs. Colorado State Rams Betting Preview article feature image

Michael Hickey/Getty Images. Pictured: Marvin Coleman.

  • The UNLV Rebels and Colorado State Rams take the floor in a Mountain West college basketball showdown on Friday night.
  • The Rams have been one of the best stories in college hoops this season.
  • Check out Keg's full breakdown of this game below.

UNLV vs. Colorado State Odds

Friday, Jan. 28
9 p.m. ET
-110o / -110u
Colorado State Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

UNLV's two-game road swing to end the month of January will make its final stop in Fort Collins, Colorado, as the Rebels prepare to face off against one of the strongest Mountain West teams in Colorado State.

It will be the Rebels' fourth road game in 11 days due to COVID-19 rescheduling. It's been a trying season for UNLV, currently 11-9 on the season but just 3-5 in league play. It suffered an embarrassing loss at San Diego State in its last game, getting blown out 80-55.

The Rebels have had issues finding harmony as a team. While 13 of their 15 players are upperclassmen, 10 of the 13 scholarship players had never played for UNLV before this season. Nine transfers joined UNLV in the offseason.

On the other side, I'm not sure Colorado State could be operating more fluidly. The Rams are 16-1 on the season and 6-1 in conference play, and while they didn't break into the AP Top 25, they are ranked 22nd in the coaches poll.

Colorado State is also riding a five-game win streak, one it would like to make six before traveling to Laramie to square off against Wyoming, which ranks just one spot behind it in the Mountain West.

UNLV leads the series all-time, 4-3. And while the Rams are an 11.5-point favorite, they are just 2-3 in home games against the Rebels.

Does UNLV have a chance of keeping this one close on the road?

UNLV Runnin' Rebels

Respectfully, the Rebels offense isn't awful, but everything looks worse when you play in the same conference as two of the top 50 scoring offenses in the country.

UNLV ranks sixth in the Mountain West and 213th nationally, averaging 68.7 points per game. And while it hasn't been a great shooting team anywhere on the floor, hitting at a 41.5% clip, there is one way it can keep up with the Rams: Pulling up from deep.

The Rebels are not a "good" 3-point shooting team. They rank 263rd in the nation, hitting at just 31.6%. But shooters shoot, and that's precisely what they are doing. UNLV ranks 108th nationally in 3-point attempts and 167th in made 3s per game. UNLV is second-to-last in 3-point percentage in the Mountain West but second in attempts.

Is this because it consistently finds itself behind in games? Probably.

But Colorado State allows more 3-point attempts and made 3s than two-thirds of Division I teams. The Rams rank 335th in opposing team attempts and 292nd in made 3s.

One of the few returning Rebels from last year's team, Bryce Hamilton, leads UNLV with 19.8 points per game to rank second in the Mountain West.

Donovan Williams is the only other Rebel averaging double digits per contest.

But Royce Hamm Jr., who averages just 8.6 points per game, has made an impact without the ball, leading the team and ranking second in the Mountain West with 9.9 rebounds per game. Hamm also leads the team with 0.9 blocks per contest.

In their last game, the Rebels defense essentially served as a cone drill for the Aztecs, who shot 52.5% from the floor against UNLV.

But UNLV has been considerably better on the season, limiting opponents to just 42.5% and giving up just 67.3 points per game. It should also find success in rebounding, as the Rams have been awful on the offensive boards, ranking 322nd in offensive rebound percentage.

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Colorado State Rams

In the Mountain West, Colorado State boasts the highest-scoring offense, the best field goal percentage, the best free-throw percentage, and the fewest amount of turnovers.

It's also fifth nationally in effective field goal percentage, 19th in 3-point percentage, and seventh in 2-point shooting.

So, how does a team slow down this Rams offense? Well, San Diego State did it with the third-most efficient defense in the nation, which isn't something I see UNLV being able to replicate. Perimeter defense and slowing the game down will be its best shot.

The Rams are led by David Roddy, who is fifth in the conference with 18.6 points per game. Roddy also leads the team in rebounding, averaging 7.9 per contest.

Colorado State's offense is the star of the show, but the defense is behind the scenes setting up the show. The Rams rank fifth in the Mountain West and 74th nationally, limiting teams to 65.8 points per contest.

And while I mentioned UNLV's path to winning — or even covering — includes hitting 3s, the Rams don't give them up easily.

Colorado State ranks 11th nationally in 3-point defense, limiting teams to 31.9% from beyond the arc. But even then, UNLV averages 31.6%. If it can improve even slightly, it could be significant for the Rebels.

UNLV vs. Colorado State Betting Pick

Colorado State is one of the better teams in the country at both ends of the floor. It's the better team in this matchup, plain and simple.

But the Rebels are not as bad as this spread reflects. They have some of the best players in the Mountain West. They have the talent and are reeling from a blowout at the hands of San Diego State.

I think this spread is too high and expect the Rebels to put up a fight. I know UNLV has been subpar on the road (1-5 ATS) and the Rams have been dominant at home, but the Rams are just 5-6 ATS in Fort Collins.

Pick: UNLV +9.5  or better

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