Mountain West Dance Hopes
Mountain West Dance Hopes
By the KING of Las Vegas WAYNE ALLYN ROOT
March Madness is ALWAYS a very exciting time here in Las Vegas. People fly in from all over the country to bet on their favorite teams and watch all the games on the big screen TV's in the sportsbooks. The atmosphere is electric and always has been.
But, things get kicked up a notch whenever UNLV has a chance to play a prominent role in the tournament. It's been a long time since the Runnin' Rebels were annual national championship threats. They have had some nice runs in recent years though, and have a chance to do so again here in March of 2012. In fact, many pundits are picking UNLV as one of their darkhorses.
UNLV is currently a favorite of -5.5 in their opener Thursday against Colorado. The first number that went up was only -3.5. So, you can see there's significant market support for the Rebels. This is a #6 vs. #11 game in the seedings. Many believe (especially locally) that UNLV deserved a better number, and that Colorado was more like a #12 or #13 seed.
UNLV would advance to play the winner of Baylor-South Dakota State. Baylor is very tough, and UNLV would be the underdog in that matchup. But, remember that the game is being played at The Pit in Albuquerque, New Mexico. That's a conference site for UNLV, so they're familiar with the environment. I'd expect a big crowd advantage as a result, particularly since neutral fans prefer rooting for the underdog.
Were UNLV to reach the Sweet 16, they're lined up in the Duke/Notre Dame part of the South regional. Duke has trouble matching up with athletes. Notre Dame is a very shaky postseason team under this coach and style.
I'm not making any promises. But, the stage is at least set for UNLV to be this year's Butler or VCU. Hey, they could fall in the first round too! This is the Big Dance and surprises are always just around the corner. Don't forget that UNLV surprised North Carolina earlier this season.
What about the rest of the Mountain West? I'll start with New Mexico, who's been the best team in the conference by a good margin over the past month or so.
New Mexico is a #5 seed, and is laying -4 in their opener against Long Beach State Thursday in Portland. Long Beach is a very tough draw, because they've been playing more like a #9 or #10 seed much of the season. Still, the Lobos are playing great, and are favorite.
New Mexico would probably draw Louisville in their second game. This is a lucky break because Louisville has no offense, had to play four games in four days last week when grinding through the Big East tournament, and had to fly all the way across the country for this regional. I'm interested to see how the market would price this game Saturday if the favorites win Thursday.
Should New Mexico reach the Sweet 16, they'd run into Michigan State, or the winner of Saint Louis vs. Memphis. Tough draw...but New Mexico isn't really outclassed by anyone in that group, even the Spartans.
I'm less optimistic about San Diego State. They were the regular season champs. But, they didn't pass the eye test last week vs. New Mexico at the Thomas & Mack Center here in Vegas. Plus:
SDSU drew hard closing NC State in their first game. It's #6 vs. #11, but the #6 team San Diego State is actually a 2-point underdog as I write this!
The team drew the earliest tip in Columbus, OH, which is brutal for a West Coast team. Tipoff is at 9:40 a.m. body time.
The good news is that a win would put SDSU against the winner of Georgetown-Belmont. Georgetown has a history of losing to lesser teams early, and Belmont would be in a letdown spot off a big upset were they to advance.
The fourth and final Mountain West entrant is Colorado State. The Rams are +4 against Murray State, after opening at +1.5. The game's being played in Louisville, Kentucky...which favors Murray. But, there's a chance the wildcard Racers are overseeded, meaning CSU has a chance to sneak through. They would play the winner of Marquette/BYU in the second round were they to win. (And, how about BYU, a former Mountain West team, making history Tuesday Night?).
You regulars know I can't talk specifics about my personal picks here in the web articles. I may have already told you more than I should today. I can tell you that I'm looking very closely at games involving the Mountain West and the Big East because if the connections I have to those conferences. But, my big play bombshells could literally hit any game on the board this week.
You can purchase my MARCH MADNESS selections right here at the website with your credit card. Be sure you take care of business early to get all the picks. The best value comes with signing up for the whole postseason. You can do that online, or by calling my handicapping office at 1-877-766-8946.It's the most important betting month of the year in Las Vegas. I'M THE KING OF LAS VEGAS! That's all you need to know. It's time for YOU to go to W.A.R. alongside WAYNE ALLYN ROOT!
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