I saved this for the last of my Wednesday previews since it’s a West Coast-based conference and I should have extra time, right? Well, the powers that be decided to have themselves an 11 AM local time game, so I’m hustling to get this figured out and published this morning. Nevada gave everyone a little hope with a late season mini-swoon, but ends up taking a share of the title and the #1 seed by virtue of a tiebreaker involving the beating of Fresno State. They were a bit of a darling going into the Big Dance last year, and I admit that I myself had a Nevada future bet at a big number. It was disappointing that they ran into the real Cinderella, but that’s how it goes.
When and Where: March 13th-16th at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas
Defending Champ: San Diego State Aztecs
Who’s Good: Nevada, Utah State
Who’s Sneaky: Fresno State, San Diego State
Who Stinks Out Loud: San Jose State. Not only did they go 4-26, they went 0-3 ATS when I bet on them.
Coolest Team Nickname: Not a strong conference for mastcots and nicknames, but I have to hand it to New Mexico. They could have just gone with Wolves, but instead went with the cool Spanish version: Lobo.
Seeding and rules: Everyone’s in, top five seeds receive a bye. The whole thing is played on a neutral site, unless you’re UNLV, who’s arena is hosting.
Multi-Bid League: Two-spots for the MWC! Nevada is locked in and Utah State should be an at-large barring some unforeseen circumstances.
Breakdown: Nevada wins 15 conference games, gets over the 25 win mark for the season, goes into the tournament nationally ranked with the #1 seed and promptly gets bounced in the semifinals. Not a prediction but, rather what happened last year. The 2019 Wolf Pack have replicated last year’s regular season success and now face the same challenge that I face next week: not absolutely blowing it in Vegas again. I can make the argument, that despite the late season loss to Utah State, this team is a bit more experienced and should be able to correct last years mistakes. As for the field, my model shows a little love for Colorado State, but no one grades out even close to the favorites in my metrics.
My Pick(s): Nevada was the class all season, and will remain so. I think they learned their lesson from last year and will focus in on getting it done and improving their seeding for next week. According to my model’s projections, this is probably a value price. No other futures, no long shots, no hedging, just the team that wins the conference tournament 65% of the time in my estimation.
Nevada -130 (1x) 5Dimes