Mountain West Tournament Odds & Picks: How to Bet Semis

Mountain West Tournament Odds & Picks: How to Bet Semis article feature image

AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post. Pictured: Isaiah Stevens.

New Mexico and UNLV were the two teams most desperate entering the quarterfinal round of the Mountain West tournament. The Lobos are squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble, and their win against Boise State on Thursday night may be enough to get New Mexico into the field.

UNLV needed to win the MWC Tournament on its home floor to steal a bid to the big dance, and took San Diego State to overtime before eventually falling just short of a modest upset victory.

Utah State also needed overtime to get past Fresno State, and Colorado State handled Nevada thanks to an elite offensive performance.

The MWC is on its way to six NCAA Tournament bids now, which would be a conference record. New Mexico isn't fully safe, but a win tonight against Colorado State would surely put it in as an at-large.

The MWC semifinals tip off at 9:30 p.m. ET on Friday night. Here are my best bets and predictions for San Diego State vs. Utah State and New Mexico vs. Colorado State.

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Mountain West Semifinals Best Bets

Friday, Mar 15
9:30 p.m. ET
CBS Sports Network
San Diego State Odds
-108o / -112u
Utah State Odds
-108o / -112u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NCAAB odds here.

Both of these teams had to play overtime on Thursday, and there could be potential fatigue effects for the Aggies because they don't really have much of a bench.

Utah State star Great Osobor played 45 minutes Thursday and never left the game. He looked exhausted down the stretch after he was bumped, doubled and fouled over and over again by undersized Fresno State throughout the game.

The Aggies are bottom 35 in the country in bench minutes, and while San Diego State isn't quite as deep as last season, it is more equipped to go to war and make this another physical battle.

These two teams split their regular season meetings, with both teams winning on their respective home floor. I was pretty bullish on Utah State's interior advantages on Thursday against Fresno State, but the Aggies are going to encounter much more resistance at the rim in this matchup.

The Aztecs don't really allow you to score at the rim at all. SDSU ranks 21st in near proximity attempt rate and 16th in field goal rate allowed on shots close to the rim.

San Diego State runs a lot of its offense through the post and through the mid-range, two areas that Utah State generally struggles to defend. The Aggies are 252nd nationally in mid-range field goal percentage allowed and are below average nationally in post-up defense.

The key matchup is on the interior between Jaedon LeDee and Osobor, and both had a lot of success offensively in both meetings.

Betting Aztec tournament overs are never any fun — the MWC quarterfinal against UNLV was sailing under until overtime — but there are more paths to success for the Aztecs offensively than Utah State in this matchup. The best way to beat SDSU is with elite shot makers and shifty guards and that's not really the Aggies formula.

The Aztecs will get more baskets at the rim and they have the better defense, so I'll back them to win by a couple possessions.

Verdict: Bet San Diego State -3.5 or better

Saturday, Mar 16
11:59 p.m. ET
CBS Sports Network
Colorado St Odds
-110o / -110u
New Mexico Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NCAAB odds here.

If excellent guard play is your thing, the Mountain West's second semifinal might be one of the best matchups of the entire day. Isaiah Stevens, Donovan Dent, Jaelen House and Jamal Mashburn Jr. is a quartet with a ton of backcourt talent sharing a court with one another.

Like the first semifina, these two also split their regular season meetings. The home team won both meetings, with New Mexico winning by two in The Pit and Colorado State winning by eight in Fort Collins.

The market has loved New Mexico and disliked Colorado State thus far in the MWC tournament, after the Lobos flipped from a 1.5-point underdog to a 1.5-point favorite at the close in their win against Boise State on Thursday. The market opened Nevada -2.5 against Colorado State and that line touched four at multiple books by close.

It's hard to find a meaningful difference between these two teams to warrant a spread above a possession. The Rams and Lobos both have question marks in the same place – rim defense. Teams with size can give Colorado State problems because of its post defense, but that's not where New Mexico gets most of its offense from.

The Rams project as an excellent shooting team, but they've made almost nothing from the perimeter since MWC play began.

This is a fascinating pace clash, especially since New Mexico tries to run in transition as much as any offense in the country and Colorado State doesn't push for offensive rebounds and prioritizes getting numbers back in transition defense.

The Rams don't generate a ton of shot volume and are more prone to shooting variance as a result. Because Niko Medved teams don't get second chance points much and don't force turnovers, the Rams are more reliant on their shot making than New Mexico.

The Medved off-ball screens and cuts have generally been effective against the UNM defense, which grades out below national average in guarding both. There's no obvious advantage for the Lobos in this matchup, so if the line gets to +3, I'll be on Colorado State with the points in a coin flip game.

Verdict: Bet Colorado State at +3 or better

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