Wolf Pack, Musselman taking over Mountain West

Wolf Pack, Musselman taking over Mountain West

February 06, 2018 3:05 AM
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Eric Musselman has a pretty good thing going right now at the University of Nevada.

Musselman, a former NBA head coach with Sacramento and Golden State, has taken the Wolf Pack to rousing heights in just two-plus seasons in Reno.

After taking over a nine-win team from 2015, Musselman reversed the program’s course in one year, as Nevada went 24-14 and won the CBI postseason tournament.

Then last season, Musselman guided the Pack to the Mountain West regular season and postseason championship, along with an NCAA Tournament bid.

And now Nevada, Reno is perched once again atop the league standings heading into Wednesday night’s home game against UNLV (8 p.m., CBSSN).

Musselman has a merry band of second-chance transfers and now the recruits are starting follow.

It almost didn’t happen that way.

Musselman was considering heading up the program where he played his college ball at the University of San Diego until Colorado State’s now-embattled head coach Larry Eustachy told him at the time that Nevada, Reno was a goldmine.

The coach just signed a five-year extension last May for a guaranteed $1 million per year, plus bonuses on postseason success and attendance, both of which are being met by Musselman and his staff. The deal made him the state’s highest paid public employee. In return, Musselman donates $50,000 per year to Nevada athletics in appreciation of the contract.

Musselman’s name is sure to come up for higher-profile positions and his latest deal has buy-out opportunities for both sides.

While it looked like the rivalry series with UNLV would have a big impact on the Mountain West race this season, the best the Rebels can hope for is to spoil the Pack’s bid for another title.

The Wolf Pack have two of the likely top three players in the conference this season in junior transfers Caleb Martin and Jordan Caroline.

Throw in the Rebs’ Brandon McCoy in Wednesday’s game and you arguably have three of the top five players in the conference in this contest.

The Wolf Pack will be favored by around 11.5 points and the total should come around 169.5. Nevada is 9-1 in the MWC, while the Rebels are mired in the middle at 5-5 in conference.

Nevada has had a terrific home court spread advantage, going 27-7-2 ATS over the last two calendar years at Lawler Events Center.

Meanwhile, UNLV has been in a spread funk, going just 2-10-1 over its last 13 games and the program is a dismal 4-21-3 ATS on the road dating back to Dec. of 2015.

Duke (-1.5, 173.5) at N. Carolina (Thu., 5, ESPN): The computers rate the rivals a little more strongly than the polls right now. The Tar Heels are getting it done at home against the number with a 16-5-1 ATS run currently, as well as a 10-1 run to the OVER dating back to last season, but have lost three of last four games. Duke caught napping at St. John’s on Saturday.

Minnesota (+3.5, 145.5) at Indiana (Fri, 4:30, FS1): Indiana had lost four-straight heading into Monday’s game at Rutgers, but the Gophers are even a bigger disaster, losing eight of their last nine Big Ten games heading into Tuesday’s game at home against Nebraska. Still, IU has covered seven-straight games at home, while Minnesota is just 4-12 ATS of late coming into the week.

Butler (+13, 157) at Villanova (Sat., 9 a.m., FOX): Villanova’s lone revenge situation this season after the Bulldogs got the best of the Wildcats, 101-93, back on Dec. 30. Butler turned things around with four wins and covers coming into home date with Xavier on Tuesday. ‘Cats are 6-1 to the OVER at home coming into home date with St. John’s on Wednesday.

Kansas (-2, 146) at Baylor (Sat., 11, CBS): Jayhawks are money on the road, going 10-3 ATS away over the last calendar year-plus, but suffered their second home loss of the season on Saturday, this time to Oklahoma State, to bring drama back to the conference race. Baylor 3-7 SU in conference heading into Tuesday’s game at OSU; Bears also four-straight OVER into that.

Xavier (+2, 165) at Creighton (Sat., 11:30, FOX): Xavier just one-game back of Villanova in the Big East standings coming into the week, as XU had a tough road assignment on Tuesday at Butler. Xavier had gone UNDER in four-straight heading into that one. Creighton, off a game at DePaul on Wednesday, is 8-4 ATS at home and has won 14 games in-a-row straight-up.

Purdue (+1.5, 147.5) at Michigan State (Sat., 1, ESPN): Purdue was riding a 19-game win streak coming into Wednesday’s high-profile matchup with Ohio State, but were laying too many points, having failed in four-straight into that one. Spartans, two games back in third into road game on Tuesday at Iowa, have gone OVER in 13 of last 16 home games.

Virginia Tech (+15, 128) at Virginia (Sat., 3:15, ESPN): Winning the way Virginia does has its benefits to bettors, as the No. 2-ranked Cavs are also one of the nation’s best against the number with a 15-3-1 ATS run currently. We know UVa is a long-term UNDER proposition, but consider Hokies right now on 7-1 run to the OVER, including four-straight on the road.

Gonzaga (+2.5, 151.5) at St. Mary’s (Sat., 7, ESPN2): Big one in the WCC as leader St. Mary’s tries to, once and for all, finish off the ‘Zags. Gaels, on an 18-game win streak coming into the week, got the first one in Spokane, 74-71, back on Jan. 18 behind national Player of the Year candidate Jock Landale’s 26 points. Bulldogs had failed seven straight into Thursday’s game at Pacific.

USC (+6.5, 157.5) at Arizona (Sat., 7:15, ESPN): USC’s Andy Enfield seemingly can overcome any adversity when it comes to leading programs. The Trojans stand just one game behind U of A coming into their swing into Arizona this week, starting in Tempe on Tuesday. ‘Cats are in a 4-14-2 slump ATS at home back to last January and had failed 7 of 9 into game vs. UCLA on Thursday.