VIP & VIP+
Exclusive Content   Join Now

Bury talk of Colorado State -- it's all about UNLV

Feb 3, 2009 5:02 PM
On The Mark by Mark Mayer |

It wasn’t too long ago that you couldn’t bet UNLV basketball games in Nevada books. Thankfully that foolish rule was eliminated and now we have a legitimate NCAA tourney contender.

Of course the bandwagon fans jumped all over the Rebels after "the worst loss in school history" to a Colorado State team that had gone 19 straight games without a win in Mountain West Conference play. An overreaction – yeah, I think.

I’d rather deal with reality and that’s a 17-4 record, four straight covers against the spread and victories over Arizona, Utah, BYU and Louisville. It was the Louisville win on the road and without top scorer Wink Adams along with blowing out an Arizona team just off a big win over Gonzaga that in my mind solidified UNLV as one that could go far in the Big Dance.

And if you still doubt the team, trust the coach. Lon Kruger has won everywhere he’s been – 81-46 at Kansas State, 104-80 at Florida, 81-48 at Illinois and currently 120-48 in Vegas. Maybe the fans aren’t rocking the Thomas & Mack in the heyday of Tark The Shark, but it’s a heck of a lot better than years between Tarkanian and Kruger.

This week the Rebels host San Diego State and visit New Mexico. It’s just six games until the Mountain West Tourney and all of them are winnable.

Now I can only hope my picks do the same:

Tuesday

C. Michigan at Buffalo: The Bulls are the class of the MAC, having won six straight and NINE of 10. Central was a 13-point dog at Akron and lost by 21. We see the line around 15 and the same result. BUFFALO.

San Diego St at UNLV: The Rebels were a 4-point home favorite against Utah and won by 10. The line should come in about the same against the improved Aztecs. It’s Greg Maddux Night at the Thomas & Mack so you just have to bet home side. This is for Greg. UNLV.

Wednesday

Tennessee at Arkansas: It’s all about home court for the Hogs. They’re 11-2 including wins over Oklahoma, Texas and Alabama. On the road, forget it. Tennessee off a big win over Florida, but has run hot and cold. Hogs may be a slight dog. ARKANSAS.

USC at UCLA: After losing to Washington, the Bruins whipped Stanford and California. They seem to be refocused, which is bad news for the rival Trojans. We see UCLA around a 12-point favorite at Pauley and deservedly so. UCLA.

Thursday

St. John’s at Seton Hall: Both teams began the week with 11-9 records. The Hall was favored by 8 over Rutgers and barely won by 3. They may be around 6 against the Red Storm, which in four Big East road games has not come closer than 19 points. SETON HALL.

Saturday

Ole Miss at Vandy: Two teams headed in different directions. Ole Miss is 6-1 ATS in last 7. Vandy the polar opposite 1-6. The Commodores did not look at home against either Florida or Tennessee. The Rebs may get 3 or 4. That would be nice. OLE MISS.

Memphis at Gonzaga: A great intersectional matchup. Memphis has won 12 in a row, Gonzaga eight straight. Both have beaten Tennessee in Knoxville in close games. I make the Zags a slight favorite since they are home and that might well be the difference. GONZAGA.

Sunday

Seton Hall at Rutgers: Back with the Hall. This time the Pirates are on the road. Rutgers comes off a 19-point win over DePaul in perhaps their best effort of the season. They will be eyeing revenge as probably a slight dog if that against their Jersey rivals. RUTGERS.