With such a quick turnaround from Friday’s semifinal win to Saturday’s conference title game (less than 20 hours), you’ll excuse me for offering a truncated preview of UNLV vs. New Mexico (3 p.m.).
You guys should know everything you need to know about this matchup by now, anyway. New Mexico has the MWC Player of the Year in Kendall Willams, and the Lobos have been the most consistent team all season. But UNLV is the most talented team in the league, and the Rebels appear to be peaking at an opportune time.
So let’s save some time and get right to the Over/Under props.
Over/Under: 55.5 percent shooting for Anthony Bennett
Bennett is taking this “March Madness” thing seriously. He’s been on a tear in the postseason, averaging 21 points on 72.7 percent shooting in the Rebels’ two MWC tournament games (that’s not a typo — he’s made 16 of his 22 field goal attempts, including 5-of-7 from 3-point range). So he’s hot. And he had good success the last time out against New Mexico, scoring 17 points on 8-of-14 shooting. I see no reason not to take the OVER — New Mexico just can’t match up.
Over/Under: 20.5 combined points, rebounds and assists for Tony Snell
Snell went way over this number in the semifinal against San Diego State (17 points, five rebounds, four assists), and that was a big reason why the Lobos rolled to a comfortable victory. He’s known for his defense, but when Snell gets involved in the offense as well, New Mexico is tough to handle. Bryce Dejean-Jones is the likely matchup for the Rebels, and he’s been getting better and better on the defensive end, to the point where I like the UNDER.
Over/Under: 55.5 percent shooting for Alex Kirk
We’ve seen Mike Moser start the past two games, but I wonder if Khem Birch won’t see more minutes against New Mexico in an effort to slow down Kirk. In two games this season, the Rebels haven’t even come close to containing him — Kirk is averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds against UNLV on 14-of-24 shooting. If he goes nuts again, the Rebels will really have to clamp down on everyone else. And that’s the way I see it going. Kirk goes OVER, but the UNLV defense limits his teammates and the Rebels win a close one.
Final score: UNLV 63, New Mexico 59
Player of the Game: Anthony Bennett — 22 points, nine rebounds, one steal
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