Fresno State ATS the NCAA Basketball Pick at UNLV

LT Profits Sports Group

Tuesday, February 10, 2015 3:30 PM UTC

Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015 3:30 PM UTC

Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay side that has a better chance of cashing than its spread, offering long term value. Here is their Side Value Play for Tuesday.

The road underdogs should be able to at the very least hang in Tuesday night in Mountain West Conference play when those Fresno State Bulldogs (11-12, 3-7 away) pay a visit to the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (13-10, 10-2 home) at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, NV at 10:00 ET in a game available on ESPN3.

The point spread at Bet365 has Fresno State as a decided underdog for this contest with the current line at +8½ with odds of -110.

Upset of Arizona Long Forgotten
UNLV made some national headlines earlier this season during the non-conference portion of its schedule when it upset what was then an unbeaten and second ranked Arizona Wildcats team, but the euphoria of that upset was quickly forgotten when the Runnin’ Rebels started out 1-5 in Mountain West play. The Rebels did then win three straight before getting nipped 83-82 at Colorado State Saturday, but they remain just eighth in the MWC at 4-6.

The Bulldogs of Fresno State may be one game under .500 overall but they are 6-4 in the Mountain after being the winning NCAA Basketball Picks in an 81-63 rout of San Jose State when they last played last Wednesday. Besides being two games ahead of UNLV in the conference standings, the fifth place Bulldogs could actually pull to within one game of the conference lead with an upset here with San Diego State and Wyoming tied for first at 8-3.

Playing Better but Still Flawed
The Runnin’ Rebels have regrouped a bit since that 1-5 conference start, although that near miss at Colorado State Saturday with a chance to get back to .500 could end up being extremely deflating. Still, despite playing a little better, UNLV still has some obvious flaws that make it a very dicey pick when giving this many points to a competent team. More specifically, the biggest flaws are in rebounding, forcing turnovers and free throws.

The Rebels are ranked 271st in the country in rebounding margin, and that should not come as a surprise considering they are just 318th in the land in offensive rebounding percentage at 26.1 percent vs. a national average of 31.2 percent, as well as 264th in defensive rebounding percentage. The surprising aspect of that is UNLV is actually fourth in the country in average height, but it is young height as the Rebels also have the nation’s 18th youngest team.

Furthermore, UNLV is just 329th in defensive turnover percentage at 16.2 percent vs. a national norm of 19.5, and it is 276th in free throw shooting at 66.2 percent. Considering that the Runnin’ Rebels have an average effective field goal percentage of 49.9 percent, being so weak in those other key areas makes them very tough to trust as decided favorites, even playing at home.

Bulldogs Look to Improve Seeding
Fresno State reached the best-of-three championship series of the CBI last season where it fell to Siena after extending the series to the maximum three games, and the Bulldogs hoped to use that success in a minor post-season tournament as a springboard to bigger things this year. Well, things did not look too bright when Fresno went 5-8 in non-conference play to begin this season, but the light apparently went on once the Mountain West season started.

Sure the Bulldogs recently had a minor hiccup with back-to-back losses to San Diego State and Colorado State both on the road, but they then snapped that mini-skid by outscoring San Jose State 44-32 in the second half in the rout last Wednesday. Fresno State shot 50.9 percent in that win while holding San Jose to just 41.7 percent shooting and forcing 18 turnovers.

The Bulldogs do not turn the ball over much themselves ranking 59th in the country in offensive turnover percentage at 17.5 percent, so they should be able to run their offense practically unabated considering how little pressure the UNLV defense applies. And the Bulldogs certainly have incentive here as they are in position to improve their seeding in the conference standings.

Fresno State has Been Good Bet Head-to-Head
UNLV swept both meetings between these teams straight up last season, but the Bulldogs took the Runnin’ Rebels to overtime here at Thomas & Mack before losing just 75-73 in overtime, easily covering as 9½-point underdogs. That makes Fresno State 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings overall.

So will the fact that Fresno State seemingly has more motivation here while still within range of the conference leaders propel it to an outright upset? Maybe, maybe not, but at the very least look for another tight game like the meeting in Las Vegas last year, so take the points with the Bulldogs visiting UNLV on Tuesday.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Fresno State +8½ (-110)

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