While there in no doubt that UNLV is a far superior team to UL Monroe, this is a bad scheduling spot for the Runnin’ Rebels, coming off a big road win with another big game up next. Take the big points here.
What looks like a mismatch on paper may actually be an opportunity to cash in on a humongous underdog Monday night when the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks (1-10 overall, 1-5 away) pay a visit to the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (11-2 overall, 7-0 home) at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, NV at 10:00 ET.
UNLV is coming off of a surprisingly easy 64-48 win over previously undefeated Illinois in Chicago on Saturday, and this is a team that comes out of the Mountain West Conference, which is the highest rated mid-major conference in the country on the Pomeroy Ratings.
Meanwhile, UL Monroe come out of the lightly regarded Sun Belt Conference, and regardless of that affiliation, this is a 1-10 team that is ranked 306th in the country according to Pomeroy, and whose only win came vs. 333rd ranked Nichols State.
Thus, UNLV should be able to name the score here on the NCAA Basketball odds right? Well, yes and no. Yes the Rebs can probably win by as much as they please, but we feel that the combination of a letdown coming off of a big win and another big game coming up next vs. California out of the Pac-12 should prevent the Rebels from running up the score here.
The point spread at Bookmaker Sportsbook has UL Monroe as a big +27½ underdog for this contest at current odds of -110.
That win over Illinois in its home state was not even the biggest win for UNLV this season, as this is the club that handed the preseason number one team North Carolina its first loss right here in Thomas and Mack on November 26.
The Rebels struggled right after that upset of the Tar Heels though, needing overtime to beat 83rd ranked UC Santa Barbara and then losing at Wichita State right after that. On this occasion tonight, this dreadful UL Monroe team is in the middle of an Illinois/California sandwich, and UNLV really has no reason to run up the score once it gets a big lead tonight.
Quite the contrary, the Runnin’ Rebels will most likely give their starters prolonged rests with the lead, so even if UNLV is up by over 30 points, the backdoor will be wide open for a Monroe cover at this enormous number.
Now do not get us wrong, the Warhawks are dreadful and could lose by 40 points if UNLV goes full throttle for the entire 40 minutes. That being said, two things that UL Monroe does do well are shoot three-pointers and crash the defensive glass. The Warhawks are hitting on 35.4 percent from beyond the arc, which could help keep this score quasi-respectable, and they rank 88th in the nation in defensive rebounding percentage, which could limit second chances for UNLV.
Finally, UL Monroe is actually 2-1-1 against the spread on the road this year and the often undervalued Sun Belt Conference is a sparkling 51-37-2, 58.0 percent against the spread as a whole out of conference this early season, so look for the Warhawks to slide in below this huge number.
NCAA Basketball Pick: UL Monroe +27½ (-110)