Nevada vs. New Mexico Expert Pick and Prediction – January 28, 2024
NEVADA VS. NEW MEXICO EXPERT PICK AND PREDICTION – January 28, 2024 — Has the balance of power finally shifted between Nevada and New Mexico? Steve Alford left Albuquerque on his terms when he left New Mexico for UCLA, but he seems to have taken these games against his former employer personally. Since Alford took the reins at Nevada, the Wolf Pack have owned this series, going 8-0 against the Lobos under Alford’s leadership.
But the Lobos are making a case as one of the top teams in a loaded Mountain West Conference. Somewhere in the past few seasons, the Mountain West solved the equation for raising the league’s profile, and it’s now widely respected as one of the top seven leagues in the nation. Three teams, New Mexico included, sit in the top 25, while last year’s national runner-up San Diego State and Nevada both carry an .800 winning percentage.
It’s clear this league will be a dogfight, and it’s just as clear that New Mexico can’t afford to cede any ground if it’s going to have a chance to win it. The Lobos haven’t lost at University Arena all season, and given that they’ve taken losses at Colorado State (excusable) and UNLV (not), they’re going to have to keep winning at home to make a run at the league crown.
Nevada finally got off the canvas after losing three straight to Wyoming, San Diego State and Boise State. The Wolf Pack were riding high at 15-1, and besting Colorado State went a long way toward rebuilding some confidence. With New Mexico giving three possessions, it feels like Nevada’s getting disrespected based off recency bias.
(16-4 SU, 12-7 ATS)
(17-3 SU, 14-5 ATS)
When: Sunday, January 28 at 10 p.m. EST
Where: University Arena, Albuquerque, N.M.
Public Bets: 72% on Nevada
Public Money: Unavailable
Odds courtesy of DraftKings, as of January 27th, 2024.
Nevada vs. New Mexico In-Season Trends
New Mexico at home has been as close to certain as it gets. The Lobos have failed to cover just once in 10 games at home this season, earning a two-point win over Texas-Arlington back in November.
Since then, it’s been one cover after another in Albuquerque. The Lobos’ pace has also meant the books can’t set the total high enough lately; five straight New Mexico games have landed over the total.
Nevada’s at the other end of the spectrum in terms of totals. Only Wyoming has pushed the Wolf Pack above the total in 2024. Otherwise, Nevada has played to the under five times in six games since Jan. 1, and if you want to go back to 2023, nine of the past 11 Wolf Pack games have stayed under the number.
Only TCU and Wyoming have pushed the total past the number, and in both cases, it’s in part because of the Nevada offense. In those two games, Nevada’s lowest total was 88 points.
If ever there was a game for Kenan Blackshear to get his turnover issues under control, this is the one. Blackshear, for all of his good qualities as a point guard, has a real problem with keeping control of the ball. Against New Mexico, that could be a death sentence, as the Lobos rank second nationally in creating points off steals.
Jamal Mashburn Jr. had a strong shooting night against San Jose State last time out, and a repeat performance would really help. The Lobos really don’t shoot the 3-point shot well, so anything they get from behind the arc would be a big bonus here.
New Mexico’s pressure defense has me a little concerned, but I’m not buying that the balance of power has completely swung in this rivalry. It’s clear that Alford takes these games personally and expects the best from his team against this opponent.
Nevada’s getting disrespected with this kind of number. I think the Wolf Pack are getting far too many points and might even win the game outright.