Pick Against the Spread New Mexico vs. San Diego St.

New Mexico Lobos -4.5 vs San Diego State Aztecs – Mountain West Conference Final

This evening’s Mountain West Final is one of the true underrated hidden gems of the week.  Much like the Atlantic 10, the Mountain West slips under the radar a bit as the conference that is too respected to be labeled a “mid-major” but still lacks the cache and national awareness (not to mention national TV contract) to be considered “appointment television’ for the casual college basketball fan.

Consider today’s game a “must-see.”  Both teams enter at 26-6 with identical 12-4 conference records.  Both have five game (or longer) win streaks alive and kicking.  Both have a bevy of quality wins and are locks to be wearing white jerseys in the first round of the NCAA Tourney.  Both experienced unexpected losses about four weeks ago; New Mexico to TCU, SDSU to Air Force, but have recovered nicely.  Both have high profile coaches who have cut down the nets; Fischer in 1989 coaching Michigan, Alford in 1987 playing for Coach Knight and the Hoosiers.

The similarities don’t stop there.  Both teams have elite conference POY-type talents.  SDSU’s Jamal Franklin (who won the award) and New Mex’s Drew Gordon, who very well could have.   Fittingly enough, you guessed it, these teams split during the regular season.

Today’s game is on a neutral floor, the Thomas & Mack Center in Vegas, and both team’s fan bases travel about equally as well.

Nearly everything about this game is dead even.  So why the 4 ½ point line favoring the Lobos??

We’ll dig into that in a second, as well as my official pick – but first, let me sprinkle in a few bonus picks for some of the games with tip-offs (and lines released) too late to cover.

Bonus Picks:  Colorado +3.5, Akron +1.5, and Baylor +3.5.  Three solid dogs with excellent chances to win straight up in addition to covering.  My ideal column would have been on the Baylor game, but the line took forever to post this morning… oh well.  Just peek back to yesterday for my feelings on Baylor.  This time also insert “ridiculous physical advantage” into the column when discussing Perry Jones III.  Ok, back to New Mex vs. SDSU.

It really isn’t even the slightest exaggeration to say these teams are nearly identically matched.  That’s why I’m leaning San Diego State’s way.  It’s not that I am SO SURE they will beat them tonight, it’s more that there is no way I can lay nearly five points on either one of these teams matched up against the other.

Take the four and a half and enjoy a remarkable conference final that most of your friends won’t be able to watch, even if they want to… (CBS College Sports Network, if you are interested)

Free Pick:  San Diego State Aztecs +4.5

Chris Scheeren / Author