We are officially on fire as we close in on conference tournament time. We picked up another win last night, our seventh win in our last nine bets, when we backed the Virginia Cavaliers, on the road, against the Miami Hurricanes, laying a point and a half. The Cavs had won nine of their previous ten games, including four straight on the road, so I felt they were the side to back.
But when you looked at the number, the Hoos had won each of those road games by three points or less, so we knew it was going to be a number we were going to have to sweat out. There was a lot of variability in the line yesterday, as some books had the number at the opening line of Virginia -1.5, while others had shifted to -2, and some books even went as high as -2.5 before tipoff. I stressed the importance of line shopping and making sure that you didn’t settle for a mediocre number.
— Virginia Men's Basketball (@UVAMensHoops) March 5, 2020
And that turned out to be some sage advice, as Virginia won by two points, and those of you that took the time to get the sharp number got paid, while the others either pushed or lost by the hook. Part of being a sharp bettor is doing what sharp bettors do, and sharps don’t settle for bad numbers.
Virginia continues to be elite on defense and laughably bad on offense. There were multiple stretches in the game last night, where Virginia just couldn’t score the basketball. And while their defense will make them a tough out in the tournament, the Cavs are high up on my list of top-ranked teams to stay away from in March. All it takes is a team with a hot shooting night, and this Cavs team will have no way to compete.
For Miami, the Hurricanes showed a lot of heart, particularly after losing top scorer Chris Lykes to a facial laceration late in the second half, but came up short once again. Miami falls to just 6-13 in ACC play on the year with the loss. For today’s daily betting pick, we will head to the Mountain West Conference tournament, where the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels play the Boise State Broncos.
- Boise State Broncos (19-11) at UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (17-14)
- Thomas and Mack, Las Vegas
- 2:00 PM PST
- TV: CBSS
The Mountain West Conference tournament is in full swing today as the UNLV Running Rebels play the Boise State Broncos in a first-round matchup featuring the fourth and fifth-ranked teams from the MWC. The Rebels have caught fire in the last several weeks as they have won five games in a row, including becoming the only team in the country to beat San Diego State this year. And while it would take an MWC tournament championship to send the Rebels dancing, they do have wins over both of the top two seeds, and it is March, so anything could happen.
GAMEDAY‼️@MountainWest Tournament Quarterfinal
? Boise State
? @UNLVtickets https://t.co/lGN2fiJrJ9
? 2 pm
? https://t.co/KjO4IVXsBu#BEaREBEL #UNLVmbb pic.twitter.com/VBTquTADrq
— UNLV Men's Basketball (@TheRunninRebels) March 5, 2020
For Boise State, the Broncos are just 3-3 in their last six games, and that rough finish has dashed any hopes of an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament, meaning they too must win the MWC tournament to go dancing. That makes tonight a true win or go home game for both squads. Man, I love March!
UNLV Runnin’ Rebels
Are the Rebels as good as they are playing right now? Probably not, but that is the beauty of March madness, it doesn’t matter. The Rebels have the hot hand, and they are riding it. UNLV has the single best win of any team in the country this year when they went into San Diego and beat the undefeated San Diego State Aztecs on their home floor. And since then, they have managed to avoid the letdown game as they have won back to back games after the huge upset.
And when you look back at the full body of work for UNLV, this team has shown they can compete, even before knocking off the Aztecs. The Rebels have top-100 wins over Boise State, Utah State, Colorado State, and San Diego State. And three of those signature wins have come in the last two weeks. A big part of winning games in March is playing your best basketball at the right time, and that is certainly the case right now for UNLV.
Boise State Broncos
Before this recent skid, the Broncos were starting to hear their names mentioned for at-large bid consideration. They had a solid overall record of 16-8, with top-100 wins over UNLV, Utah State, Nevada, Colorado State, and BYU. But that talk has subsided now, and Boise State must win today to advance and keep their season alive.
Most of the Bronco’s struggles have come on the road this year as they have road losses at Oregon, New Mexico, Tulsa, UNLV, Nevada, San Diego State, Air Force, and Utah State. Of their eleven losses, eight of them came on the road.
Who Do I Like?
Technically this is a neutral floor game. But the fact that it is being played on campus on UNLV’s home court, can’t be ignored. It won’t exactly be a home game, but it is the closest thing possible, and I would expect the Rebels fans to come out in droves to support their squad. And we just got to see this exact matchup a week ago. Same two teams, same building. Do we get the same outcome?
In that game a week ago, the Rebels dominated the first half, taking a twelve-point lead into halftime, and coasted to a double-digit victory. You have to wonder how much has really changed since that game that was played just nine days ago?
This line is a bit of a head-scratcher. On the one hand, we have a red-hot UNLV team that has won five straight games, including three of their best wins of the year. On the other, we have a Boise State team that is struggling recently and has shown that they can’t hang with the top of the league with recent late-season losses to UNLV, San Diego State, and Utah State, three of the top four seeds in the tournament.
This line opened up at UNLV -2.5, and the public has hammered Boise State. Even as I am writing this article, the number is continuing to move towards the Broncos, and it currently sits at UNLV-1, a full point and a half line move. It wouldn’t shock me if it closes out at even, or even Boise State -1 with so much heavy action coming in on Boise State.
But I am going to fade the public, as usual, and back the hot hand. I get it, Boise State is likely better than they are playing right now, and UNLV is playing above their talent level. That notion isn’t lost on me.
But in March, it is all about momentum, and UNLV has it, and Boise State doesn’t. I think the Rebels win and advance, and San Diego State better play their best game in the next round, or they are going to be on upset alert. Give me the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels laying just a point at home!