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NCAA Basketball Predictions – New Mexico Lobos at UNLV Rebels 1/12

The UNLV Rebels unfortunately got off to a poor start in the Mountain West schedule, and they didn’t waste any time pulling the trigger on their head coach. Dave Rice, who went to school there, has been fired, and Todd Simon has been named interim coach. So this beleaguered team will step into action on Tuesday night against the New Mexico Lobos, who have had quite the opposite start to their conference slate.

The UNLV Rebels unfortunately got off to a poor start in the Mountain West schedule, and they didn’t waste any time pulling the trigger on their head coach. Dave Rice, who went to school there, has been fired, and Todd Simon has been named interim coach. So this beleaguered team will step into action on Tuesday night against the New Mexico Lobos, who have had quite the opposite start to their conference slate. This game will begin at 10 PM ET at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, and BetAnySports customers can place wagers on it while it is in progress through the magic of Live Betting Extra.

UNLV (9-7 straight-up, 7-6 against the basketball pointspread) was pretty good in the early part of its schedule, scoring victories over the likes of Oregon and Indiana, but things took a quick nosedive as soon as conference play began. They could not figure out how to close out games, losing to Fresno State, Colorado State, and Wyoming by a combined six points. Then, suddenly, Rice was fired. There’s been some controversy regarding the nature of his departure; the university has tried to term it a resignation, essentially saying that it was a “mutual agreement” between the parties. But he is gone, nonetheless.

New Mexico has been very impressive early on in conference play, winning all three games by double digits and holding opponents to just 38% shooting. The Lobos (10-6 straight-up, 8-5 ATS) were slumping before that, having lost four games in a row.

In the reduced juice NCAA basketball betting odds posted on this game by the people at BetAnySports, UNLV is the favorite at home:

UNLV Rebels -5.5 (-105)

New Mexico Lobos +5.5 (-105)

Over 146.5 points -105

Under 146.5 points -105

New Mexico is led by Elijah Brown, a 6-4 guard who knows how to get on the inside and do some dirty work, as he is averaging 5.6 rebounds per game along with 19.3 points. They also get strong contributions from big man Tim Williams, who is averaging 16.5 points on 60% marksmanship. The Lobos’ signature win this season in non-conference play came over Northern Iowa, which had previously posted a victory over North Carolina.

UNLV has some problems with fundamentals; this is a very poor free-throw shooting team, at 65.4%. And while they got monumental contributions out of guard Patrick McCaw during the early part of the schedule, he has averaged only 6.5 points over his last six games. Still, he is the team’s leading scorer. BetAnySports patrons are interested in finding out what Simon will do with him, as far as his position is concerned; Rice had shifted him from shooting guard to point guard so that he could have the ball in his hands more.

New Mexico has had its problems when visiting, losing 10 of its last 12 road games. But interestingly enough, over the last two seasons, the road team has one all four games in this series. Can the Lobos continue their Mountain West momentum? And will this rather shocking firing have a residual effect on the UNLV players? Simon comes into the job without a whole lot of experience; in fact, the extent of his head-coaching work was one season at a local high school.

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