South Region: Nevada's Offense Too Much for Misfiring Texas

Doug Upstone

Wednesday, March 14, 2018 5:18 PM UTC

Wednesday, Mar. 14, 2018 5:18 PM UTC

The second game of Friday in Nashville starting at around 4:30 ET will be No. 7 Nevada, who was the Mountain West Conference regular-season champion, taking on 10th-seeded Texas from the Big 12 in South Region action.

No. 7 Nevada Wolf Pack vs. No. 10 Texas LonghornsSouth Region, Friday, 4:30 PM ETFree NCAAB Pick: NevadaBest Line Offered: Intertops

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Nevada might have been a sixth seed, but by losing twice the San Diego State this month that did not help the Wolf Pack's cause even if the Aztecs earned the automatic bid in the Mountain West. In spite of only being 5-7 (6-6 ATS) to close the season, Texas got all the brownie points for playing in arguably the best conference this year and managed to be selected for "full body of work," which now takes its rightful place in the English language with "alternative facts."

Oddsmakers thought so highly of the Longhorns coming out of the Big 12, they introduced this confrontation as a pick'em, and at last look Nevada is now a one-point favorite when reviewing the college basketball odds. Who moves on to likely play Cincinnati?

Nevada Can Score, But is Banged Up

Eric Musselman is a known quantity as an offensive coach, falling back on his NBA experience. His Nevada teams have won 24, 28 and 27 games in his three seasons (15-16-2 ATS in 2017-18), and they run some the best offense in the country in averaging 83.1 points a game. The Wolf Pack do not play overly fast in putting up this many points, with 60 attempts a game. But because they are eighth nationally in offensive efficiency and drain almost 40 of three-balls, they are an offensive force.

However, Nevada is not healthy. Kendall Stephens is the Wolf Pack's best three-point marksman, and he has an injured thumb on shooting hand. Caleb Martin is playing through a ligament problem in his foot, and point guard Lindsey Drew ruptured Achilles tendon in mid-February, which finished his season. The latest mishap was to Jordan Caroline (17.6 PPG, 8.7 RPG) with a broken finger on his non-shooting hand. This team was only seven deep BEFORE Drew's injury.

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Texas Has To Play Strong Defense Because Shooting is a Problem

It has not been all flowers and balloons for Texas (19-14, 15-14 ATS) this season, either. Guard Andrew Jones was diagnosed with leukemia in January. Next came the suspension of guard Eric Davis Jr. as part of the ongoing FBI investigation, and uber-talented freshman center Mo Bamba missed several games at the end of the season with a foot problem.

Realistically, the Longhorns' only shot is to play slow and play defense, even if Nevada is also less than 100 percent. Texas only makes 31.5 percent on deep heaves and clangs plenty at the free-throw line at 66.8%.

Nevada Has Too Many Offensive Options

Granted, the Wolf Pack are feeling the effects of long season, but they still have four players averaging 13.5 to 19.5 PPG. Unless one of their players is injured during the game and cannot play, I'm not sure how Texas keeps up, which is why for NCAA basketball picks I'll support Nevada.

Check out SBR’s college basketball odds page for updated lines. Also, head over to the March Madness Betting Headquarters for vital handicapping information, picks, and a list of the best sports books and live betting options for the tournament season.

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