Nevada Wolfpack @ Stanford Cardinal -6.5 — NIT Quarterfinals
Despite the fashionable Pac 12 bashing this season, including plenty of it by me as well, the beleaguered conference is saving a little face with their solid play in the NIT. Washington (who I would have invited to the Big Dance over Cal, as I’ve stated before) has already advanced to the Final Four by beating conference-mate Oregon last night in a 90-86 thriller, and Stanford has a chance to join them in New York with a win tonight at home over Nevada.
The Cardinal are a pretty large favorite, but are they a deserving one? Stanford has actually been pretty good against good teams this season. They went a combined 4-1 against Cal and Colorado in the regular season, the Pac 12’s two NCAA Tournament representatives. They also beat NC State earlier this season and gave Syracuse a heck of a ball game before falling 69-63. So we know this team can play big against good competition. But how do you explain their eleven losses?? They boast losses to Utah, UCLA, Butler, and Washington State. With any of those winnable games under their belt, maybe this is an NCAA Tournament team.
Nevada thought they were an NCAA Tournament team. The Wolfpack ripped through the regular season with a 25-5 record and a 13-1 mark in the WAC. However, when they stumbled in the conference tournament to Louisiana Tech in the semi-finals, their NCAA Tourney dreams vanished and they were relegated to the NIT by the selection committee. I think they got a rough deal. They suffered a season-opening loss to Missouri State, not a great one, but their other two pre-conference losses were to UNLV and BYU, both tourney teams. They stumbled once in conference to Idaho, and lost a close Bracket Buster game to Iona. Iona was the last team to make the tourney field. Still think those Bracket Buster games don’t matter??
I think Nevada is playing with a little edge and a little fuel from their perceived oversight. This is a good road basketball team, having gone 10-2 on the year, and an even better team against the spread, covering a remarkable 19-9-1 for the season. Tonight they are getting six and a half points against a good, but not markedly better, basketball team. I like their chances.
Nevada is 11-2 ATS in their last 13 road games. I am not sure they spring the upset tonight, but I don’t see it being easy for the Cardinal either way. Give me the Wolfpack and the points.