UNLV vs Cal Pick – NCAA Basketball Dec 9

A good day in college hoops was punctuated with Illinois’s road win over Gonzaga.  The Zags were laying eleven points, but as detailed here at thesportsgeek.com, had trouble with Illinois’s high-octane backcourt of Richardson and Paul (who had 35 points in 34 minutes) and won the game going away.  Most sportsbooks didn’t offer a moneyline, but if you were able to find one, you cashed in around +500.  Happy Holidays!

Today doesn’t have many games going on the college side of things, but there is an intriguing matchup on ESPNU at 6pm EST with a good profit opportunity.  So let’s build off yesterday’s 3-1 momentum with another winning day of college basketball.

UNLV Runnin’ Rebels at Cal Bears -1

The second best team in the Pac 12 appears to be a pretty wide open race.  Arizona is clearly the class of the West, but with Colorado’s absolute shellacking yesterday in Lawrence and the widely publicized struggles of Ben Howland and UCLA, there isn’t a clear-cut answer.  Washington is rebuilding, and USC is terrible.  Oregon appears better than expected and owns a win over UNLV (more on that in a minute).  Oregon State might finally be getting the “hey my sister is married to the President!” recruiting lift from all the free publicity and radio appearances (Craig Robinson is not doing the Jim Rome show otherwise, can we please admit that??).  But very quietly, the second best team in the Pac 12 might just be Cal.

Cal enters tonight’s game at 6-1, with an opportunity to notch a high quality win against a sure-fire NCAA Tournament team.  Their schedule has been soft, but they did win the Anaheim Classic, beating Georgia Tech and Pacific in the process.  So perhaps this team is legit??

Um…. Not so fast.  Last week’s 81-56 loss to Wisconsin was an eye-opener.  In their first test against a quality team (and that might be a reach, calling Wisconsin quality after watching them play against Florida and Marquette), they got absolutely blitzed.  UNLV is significantly better than Wisconsin and I think it will further expose some of the guard weaknesses Cal has in the wake of Gutierrez’s graduation.

UNLV took a loss at Oregon earlier this season, and I was very surprised.  But it may wind up being a much better loss than it seemed at the time.  I do NOT really think Cal is the second best team in the Pac 12.  In fact, I don’t think they are an NCAA tournament team when it is all said and done.  UNLV on the other hand is legit.  They have one of the best freshman in the country in Anthony Bennett.

They also are optimistic that All-American candidate Mike Moser will return tonight after missing the last game with a back injury.

I know UNLV hasn’t killed themselves with a tough schedule either to this point, but they are overwhelmingly more talented than Cal.  It’s never easy going on the road, but as Illinois showed last night, if I am going to go on the road, I’d rather do it with better athletes and better basketball players.  That’s the case for UNLV tonight, and I like them getting the win in Berkley.

Free Pick:  UNLV Runnin’ Rebels +1

Chris Scheeren / Author