New Mexico vs Nevada Odds, Pick: Wolf Pack in Close One?
Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images. Pictured: Kenan Blackshear (Nevada)
New Mexico vs Nevada Odds, Pick
The Mountain West could achieve a high-water mark in NCAA tournament bids, potentially securing six. Those six squads include Nevada and New Mexico.
However, ahead of this matchup in Reno on Tuesday, they're both not locks to reach the Big Dance. Here's New Mexico vs. Nevada odds and a pick.
New Mexico is fresh off a home loss against UNLV — Nevada's heated rivals from Vegas. UNLV accounts for two of New Mexico's three conference losses, but this recent one at home hurts its NCAA tournament resume.
It's pretty easy to see the reason why New Mexico lost twice to the Rebels. Since the team plays very fast-paced with Jaelen House and Donovan Dent running the offense, much of the Lobos' offensive success comes from defensive stops. And New Mexico couldn't stop UNLV either time, allowing 80+ points in both.
The Lobos also allowed 86 points against Boise State in a third Mountain West loss.
Richard Pitino deploys an aggressive defensive style, as the Lobos force turnovers on 20% of their possessions. Once the Lobos get a turnover and run in transition, it's hard to stop them.
New Mexico's offense could be more effective in a condensed half-court set, though.
The offense runs through Dent, a sophomore point guard. He's small but loves using his quick burst to attack the hoop. Dent leads the team with 15.7 points and 5.2 assists per game while shooting 52% from the field.
Three weeks ago, Nevada faced New Mexico in The Pit and went home with a lopsided 89-55 loss. Everything that could go wrong went wrong, as the Pack scored just 0.88 points per possession while allowing over 1.30 on defense.
Nevada has caught fire since then, though.
It beat Utah State in Logan, followed by a huge OT win over San Diego State in Reno. Beating the Lobos would put Nevada in a great position to reach the tourney in back-to-back years for the first time with Steve Alford as head coach.
The Pack stifle teams on the defensive end regularly, ranking 33rd in defensive efficiency. Nevada doesn't have a weak defensive point — it forces turnovers (18% of the time) and ranks top-85 in 2-point and 3-point field goal percentage.
It helps to have a defensive ace like Kenan Blackshear up front, who walls up and stops opposing guards with his length and speed. That's part of the reason why Nevada allows 3s on over 42% of its field goals. Teams feel better about shooting the ball from 3 instead of driving into traffic against Blackshear.
Nevada relies on Jarod Lucas and Blackshear on offense for most of its scoring. Lucas has serious perimeter shooting prowess, while Blackshear lives in the mid-range. Having a 6-foot-6 point guard like Blackshear is such an asset, particularly against New Mexico's diminutive guard trio.
Part of Blackshear's bread-and-butter is drawing fouls. The Pack rank seventh in free-throw rate, largely thanks to Blackshear.
Forward Nick Davidson has transformed into a reliable third option lately. He's averaging over 11 points and six rebounds, but has scored 22+ in two of the past three games with a pair of double-doubles.
Nevada's offense becomes significantly more dangerous if Davidson continues performing well.
Nevada is a different team in the Lawlor Events Center. It's taken one home loss all year, which came against Boise State. Moreover, Nevada has already defeated Colorado State and San Diego State.
I'll back the home team, which needs another win to feel comfortable about its NCAA tournament standing.
Some revenge is in order following a disastrous showing in The Pit.