Back Boise State or No. 24 Nevada in Mountain West Game of Year?

Rainman M.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018 4:16 PM UTC

Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018 4:16 PM UTC

Boise State (20-5) hosts No. 24 Nevada (21-5) Wednesday at 11 ET. First-place Nevada leads Boise in the Mountain West by half a game but is a 1.5-point underdog.

No. 24 Nevada Wolfpack at Boise State BroncosFree NCAAB Pick: Boise State -1.5Best Line Offered: Heritage

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With this huge Mountain West Conference game on our NCAAB oddsboard, bettors have the advantage of rewatching the first matchup between these two teams, on Jan 20., in which Nevada won as a 6-point favorites at home 74-68, and ask themselves: Can we expect anything different this time, and can we expect enough change to produce a different ATS result?

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The first game was a nail-biter even though Boise State went 3-for-21 from behind the arc. Boise has the 50th-highest point distribution from three and is normally strong from behind the arc, ranking 37th in three-point shooting percentage. Boise has two players who rank in the top 100 in three-point shooting, forward Justinian Jessup and guard Lexus Williams, both of whom average over 45% from three. Two other Broncos rank in the top 500 in the category. Boise was still able to keep the Nevada game close because of star forward Chandler Hutchinson, who produced 27 points in that game and has scored more than 20 points in Boise's last three games. Boise's defense also ranks No. 1 in the conference in KenPom's efficiency.

Nevada shoots the 91st-highest proportion of threes but matches up poorly against BSU, which specializes in contesting the three, ranking 27th in opposing three-point percentage. Boise State also has a stout interior defense, led by center Zach Haney, who had three blocks in the first matchup and ranks 311st in block percentage. Haney is one of four Broncos who average over 5 rebounds per game. Boise ranks first in defensive rebounding percentage and will force many one-and-done drives from Nevada, which ranks 235th in offensive rebounding percentage.

The Nevada game was one of three SU conference losses for BSU. All three came on the road and in all three Boise shot abysmally from three. A team that relies so much on three-point shooting is a relatively less reliable road bet because it derives less momentum from the crowd and is shooting in an arena constructed differently than the one it is most used so that the shooter's perception of the basket is altered (especially from longer distance). An extreme example of this is Syracuse's Carrier Dome, which is notorious for disturbing visiting jump shooters.

Home-court advantage will be decisive for the three-point shooting Broncos, who are undefeated SU at home this season. Boise is also in a good spot because it is a consistent bounce-back team with a 4-0 ATS record after a SU loss. Also, Nevada has even worse road struggles than Boise and is currently suffering an 0-3-1 road ATS streak. Furthermore, star forward Caleb Martin was declared last week vs. UNLV to be out indefinitely due to injury.

Nevada lost against UNLV and was desperate enough to play Martin against San Diego State. Nevada won that game -- at home, against an abysmal SDSU road team that does not defend the three well -- almost despite Martin, who was essentially limited to jacking up threes and produced only 10 points on 12 shots. In the first matchup against Boise, he led all scorers with 28 points and he easily leads Nevada with 19.4 points per game. Martin is expected to play here but clearly isn't 100 percent. One more reason to back Boise State for Wednesday's NCAAB pick.

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