A battle of Top 25 contenders from the Mountain West Conference clash tonight in what amounts to a title game but as we peruse the college basketball odds which team gives us a better chance to cash a ticket?
New Mexico Lobos (24-5 SU, 14-11 ATS in lined games)
The Lobos' 6'9" Aussie Cameron Bairstow was a one-man wrecking crew two weeks ago when New Mexico welcomed San Diego State to University Arena (aka The Pit) and dropped 26 points on the Aztecs in a 58-44 victory on February 22nd. Bairstow now leads the Mountain West Conference with 20.3 points per game. The victory over San Diego State was undoubtedly the biggest win during their current six-game unbeaten streak and in addition has made their backers very happy campers, covering in five of those six in college basketball odds.
Ironically New Mexico's offense, averaging 72.5 PPG during their current winning streak, is actually down three points per game from their season's average but their defense has been air tight allowing only 56.7 points during this stretch. If the Lobos have to sacrifice a bit on the offensive end to gain substantially on the defensive side of the ball then it appears that is the recipe they will follow tonight and beyond.
San Diego State Aztecs (26-3 SU, 16-10 ATS in lined games)
The Aztecs are currently knotted with New Mexico at the top of the Mountain West Conference with identical 15-2 conference records but their overall record of 26-3 narrowly bests New Mexico's 24-5. While the Lobos boast potential Conference Player of the Year Cameron Bairstow the Aztecs have Xavier Thames who will challenge Bairstow for that honor which could be decided by their performances tonight. The 23-year-old senior guard is averaging well over seven points per game more than his junior year and is part of the reason why San Diego State is ranked 10th in the nation.
But the Aztecs are not one dimensional. They also have Alex Kirk, a monster in the middle at 7- feet tall and over 250 pounds, who averages 13.7 PPG and 8.6 rebounds per contest. And then of course there is last season's player of the year Kendall Williams who is tied with Xavier Thames for fifth in conference scoring with a 16.7 average. Due to contributions from Thames, Kirk and Williams San Diego State has won five of their last six games and covered the NCAAM odds in five of them. Their last two games featured gutsy road wins over Fresno State (82-67 as 4-point ATS chalk) and UNLV (73-64 as 2 ½ point favorites in college basketball odds).
Free College Basketball Pick:
If you are a fan of the MWC or of the Aztecs then you are already aware that this season's edition is virtually invincible at home. Yet though they are 14-1 straight up they are a pedestrian 6-6 ATS in lined home games. And yes, they do have a triple threat in Thames, Kirk and Williams but that three-headed monster did them no good in their first meeting with the Lobos as Cameron Bairstow essentially mitigated that threat and took over in the second half when he contributed 10 of the team's 21 points during a 21-2 run that gave New Mexico a 50-26 lead they would never surrender.
Let's also remember that New Mexico is 6-0 ATS in their last six road contests and has covered the all-important number in five of the last six games against the Aztecs. Look, New Mexico averages over three points per game more than San Diego State, distributes the ball better, shoots with greater accuracy and rebounds just as well. They are a more cohesive unit who has suddenly found their defensive footing. All that and the offshore oddsmakers are going to give me points?! Sure, I'll take each and every one of them in my MCAAM picks.
College Basketball Picks: New Mexico +5 at Bet365.com.