NCAA Basketball Pick: Wyoming Cowboys +9 over UNLV Rebels

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, January 24, 2013 5:00 AM UTC

Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013 5:00 AM UTC

UNLV is ranked slightly ahead of Wyoming by Pomeroy, but the Cowboys look like an overlay tonight for a team that plays good defense and whose slow style can frustrate UNLV.

The visiting team looks like a nice overlay in the Mountain West Conference Thursday night when those Wyoming Cowboys (15-2, 5-1 away) pay a visit to the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (15-4, 11-1 home) at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, NV at 9:15 ET in a game televised nationally on CBS College Sports.

The point spread at 5 Dimes has Wyoming as a big road underdog for this contest with the current line at +9 with odds of -105.

We projected Wyoming to be a nice sleeper in the Mountain West this season and here they sit at 15-2 overall and ranked 28th in the country on the Pomeroy Ratings. That makes the Cowboys one of five Mountain West teams ranked in the Pomeroy Top 30, which has this mid-major conference ranked third in the country as a whole behind only the Big Ten and the Big East!

Wyoming plays a slow, methodical offense that can frustrate a lot of teams, and a team like UNLV is a team that can easily get frustrated as it is a team that needs to run. The Cowboys will not allow that to happen however, as they rank 331st in the nation with a tempo rating of 61.6 possessions per game. Their offensive system does usually end up leading to good shots though, as the Cowboys are ranked an excellent 11th in the land in two-point percentage at 55.2 percent.

Just about the only negative regarding Wyoming’s season so far is that both of its losses have come in conference including a perplexing loss at Fresno State, which is one of the lightweights in the conference ranked 138th on Pomeroy. That remains the Cowboys’ only road loss all year (5-1) and they rebounded with a very good 58-45 home win over 27th ranked San Diego State on Saturday.

Besides usually working for the best shot offensively, Wyoming also ranks 20th in defensive efficiency and 33rd in two-point defense, which is important vs. a UNLV team that gets most of its points inside.

UNLV is ranked 26th by Pomeroy and is tied with Wyoming in the conference standings at 2-2 despite the fact that the Runnin’ Rebels have played just one conference home game, as they had a very nice road win at San Diego State. However, the Rebels are the polar opposite of the Cowboys as they rank 29th in the country with a tempo rating of 70.9 possessions.
Unfortunately, although the Rebels are home, we do not feel that they will be able to force their tempo on the Cowboys tonight for the simple fact that they are not good at all in forcing turnovers, ranking a dismal 256th in defensive turnover percentage, so Wyoming should be able to run its sets basically unencumbered.

Those lost possessions hurt UNLV because it only ranks 93rd in effective field goal percentage, further evidence that it needs a fast pace to build up points. Furthermore, the Rebels do not shoot three-pointers well at 33.4 percent to rank 176th in that category, and although they are a better 67th in two-point offense, that plays into the strength of the Wyoming defense.

All things considered, this seems like a huge spread so take the points with Wyoming on Thursday.

NCAA Basketball Pick: Wyoming +9 (-105)

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