Mountain West Tournament: 2 Teams to Bet That Can Knock Off San Diego State
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images. Pictured: Matt Mitchell
The Mountain West Conference garnered a lot of attention this season, thanks in large part to San Diego State’s historic run.
But when the teams touch down in Las Vegas this week and begin play on Wednesday, the slate will be clean, opening the door for a new team to grab national headlines.
Historically the MWC tournament has been a free-for-all. In the last 20 years, the No. 1 seed in the bracket has cut down the nets just four times and failed to make the title game 45% of the time.
Can the Aztecs buck that trend, or will an upstart teeming with value secure the conference’s automatic bid?
- San Diego State -200
- Utah State +250
- UNLV +1050
- Nevada +2000
- Boise State +3300
- Colorado State +5000
- New Mexico +7500
- Fresno State +10000
- Air Force +20000
- San Jose State +30000
- Wyoming +30000
The Chalk: San Diego State (-200)
For perspective, there hasn’t been an odds-on favorite to win the MWC Tournament in the last nine years. Back in 2010, New Mexico was installed as a slight favorite at -120 odds, and the Lobos lost in the semifinals to SDSU.
Does that mean the Aztecs’ current price presents zero value? Not exactly.
The Aztecs will play the winner of Fresno State-Air Force on Thursday, two teams they handled easily on the road this season. What awaits them in the semifinals, however, is a different story. The bracket would have them locked into either Boise State or UNLV.
UNLV handed SDSU its lone loss of the season, a 66-63 defeat at Viejas Arena. The Runnin’ Rebels also nearly clipped the Aztecs at home, falling by four.
Boise State, on the other hand, was boat raced in both games against SDSU, but they do have two things going for them: offensive star power and strong team rebounding.
If I were holding an Aztec future in this tournament, I’d likely play UNLV against the spread versus Boise State. If SDSU were to catch Boise instead of UNLV, they’d essentially have a red carpet laid out to the title game.
At the end of the day, SDSU is top 10 in offensive and defensive efficiency, it rarely turns the ball over, it’s an elite foul shooting team, and needs this tournament championship to secure a No. 1 seed int he NCAA Tournament.
In an ideal scenario, you’re holding an SDSU future in the title game, and can take advantage of a large middle by playing their opponent ATS.
The Challenger: Utah State (+300)
The Aggies were picked to win the MWC by the media back in October. The limited availability of Neemias Queta and a slight regression in play from Sam Merrill resulted in eight losses, including a three-game skid in early January.
Utah State has bounced back from its midseason swoon and won nine of its last 11. The Aggies even held a halftime lead over SDSU on the road before wilting in the second half. When Queta elevates his game offensively, the Aggies have the feel of an elite team. During games in which the Portuguese big pours in more than 15 points, Utah State is 5-1 SU. In his last seven games alone, he’s averaging 16 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game.
The Aggies’ bracket positioning, on the opposite side of SDSU, makes their current price (4-1) attractive when you consider how well Queta and Merrill have been playing this past month.
The Darkhorse: Colorado State (+5000)
In New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana or West Virginia? Bet Colorado State at 50-1 at DraftKings now.
It’s worth noting that no team has ever won four games in four days in the MWC Tournament. That being said, the road to the title game is favorable for the Rams, who earned the No. 6 seed. Colorado State finished just a game out of second place, so there isn’t a significant quality drop off between the second and sixth-ranked teams in this field.
The Rams draw Wyoming first, one of the nation’s worst teams on road/neutral floors. They then would face off against Nevada, who they split with during the season.
When it comes to long shots, I generally focus on the height of their ceilings as opposed to the consistency of their play. Colorado State has the third most efficient offense in the conference — the Rams led SDSU in the final minutes last week and were within one of Utah State in the final 10 seconds back on Feb. 11.
They can play with the best in the MWC. The play of senior center Nico Carvacho will be pivotal. When he grabs 10 or more rebounds, CSU is 15-2 SU.
A 50-1 future generates value if you believe CSU can appear in the semifinals. At that point, hedging becomes fairly straight forward and profitable.
You just need CSU to win two games, and if you’re holding a Utah State ticket too, you’ll be in great shape.