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UNLV vs. Colorado State

Free College Basketball Pick With Analysis

2/29/12

The 17th-ranked UNLV Runnin' Rebels have rebounded from a two-game skid to win their last two games. But UNLV (24-6, 8-4 Mountain West) will play arguably its biggest game of the regular season on Wednesday when the team visits the Colorado State Rams (17-10, 6-6).

The Rebels currently find themselves in a three-way tie for first place in the conference and could hurt their seeding for the conference and NCAA tournaments with a loss at Fort Collins. Meanwhile, the Rams have very little chance of winning the Mountain West but hope to continue playing the role of spoilers down the stretch after upsetting the New Mexico Lobos 71-63 last Tuesday as 5.5-point underdogs.

Colorado State has covered the spread in four straight games and is 13-1 straight-up at home this season, winning 12 in a row there. Two of the last four home wins have come against the other two teams tied with UNLV atop the conference, the Lobos and San Diego State Aztecs. The Rams have struggled on the road though, as they are coming off a 74-66 loss away from home against the Aztecs on Saturday and were previously crushed 82-63 by the Rebels in the first meeting on February 1.

However, UNLV's difficulties have occurred on the road as well, dropping three straight away from the Thomas & Mack Center, and the previous two games before that were both overtime wins. The Rebels have failed to cover their last nine true road games, winning just one of them in regulation against the Hawaii Warriors 74-69 on December 31. The UNDER is 4-1 in their last five games overall, with the team topping its season average of 78.4 points per game only once during that stretch.

Only three teams figure to make it to the Big Dance from the Mountain West, barring a conference tournament champion that is not UNLV, New Mexico or San Diego State. Colorado State's only chance to get into the NCAA tournament is likely to win the conference tourney, although a victory here would certainly help the team's case for a longshot at-large bid.

The Rebels are looking to secure a Top 5 seed in the Big Dance, but they will have a hard time convincing the selection committee that they are deserving of that status with another road loss. The top seed in the conference tourney is also on the line, and UNLV will definitely have an edge playing it at home, as the team will try to complete the regular season with a perfect mark at the Thomas & Mack against the Wyoming Cowboys on Saturday.

Our score prediction model says Colorado State is the right side if, assuming UNLV is favored, as this is being written prior to any lines being posted. When using season to date data, the model says UNLV wins 72-71. However, when using data from the last 7 games only, it has Colorado State on top by a score of 69-65. Should be a good one!

You can get ALL of our score predictions, every game on the board through the Final 4, as well as our Key Releases. Details here

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