It’s two at-large teams facing off in the South Region on Friday afternoon as No. 7 Nevada of the Mountain West Conference faces No. 10 Texas of the Big 12 – an argument could be made on whether the Longhorns belong in the Big Dance or not. Nevada leads the NCAA Basketball odds by -1, so if definitely will be a close one.
Nevada vs. Texas NCAA Basketball Odds & First Round Game Info
Why Bet on Nevada?The Wolf Pack were regular-season Mountain West champs but lost in the conference tournament to San Diego State. Eric Musselman inherited a 9-22 team when he took over as coach of the Wolf Pack following the 2015 season. Since then, Nevada has won 24, 28 and 27 games each season, respectively, a run of success the program hasn’t seen since Mark Fox was the coach more than a decade ago.The Wolf Pack rise has been aided by transfers: twin brothers Caleb and Cody Martin from North Carolina State, Jordan Caroline from Southern Illinois, Kendall Stephens from Purdue, and Hallice Cooke from Oregon State and Iowa State make up four-fifths of the Nevada starting lineup.Caleb Martin earned Mountain West Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year honors, Cody Martin was Defensive Player of the Year and Musselman Coach of the Year. Caroline has scored 20 or more points in the last five games, 6-of-7 and 7-of-9. Caroline has three double-doubles in the last five games and five in the last nine games. Caroline has 27 career double-doubles and the Pack is 25-2 in those contests.Stephens set the MW record with 73 made 3-pointers in conference play this season and his 118 overall is a Pack record and second most in MW history behind Jimmer Fredette’s (BYU) 124. Stephens is one of three players to have made five or more 3s in 12 games this season but the only one competing in the NCAA Tournament.
How Have the Wolf Pack Done This Season?Nevada averages 83.1 points a game. The Wolf Pack do not play overly fast in putting up this many points, with 60 attempts a game. But because they are eighth nationally in offensive efficiency and drain almost 40 of three-pointers, they are a force. Musselman has four players who can shoot from anywhere and three who can score in multiple ways.The Wolf Pack spread the ball around like few other teams in Division I, sporting a 1.63 assist-to-turnover ratio that ranks second in the country. But Nevada sputtered to the finish line, covering just one of their final six games.
Why Bet on Texas?After missing the Big Dance last year, the Longhorns make their 18th NCAA Tournament appearance in the last 20 seasons. This marks UT’s second NCAA appearance in three seasons under Shaka Smart. Texas is one of eight schools nationally to appear in at least 18 of the last 20 NCAA Tournaments.At 19-14 overall and 8-10 in the Big 12 regular season, Texas was very fortunate to get a bid. The Horns have had some adversity. Guard Andrew Jones was diagnosed with leukemia came in January. About a month later, another guard Eric Davis Jr. was suspended as part of the ongoing FBI investigation into the sport. He remains suspended. An injury to freshman superstar Mo Bamba at the end of the season left the status of Smart’s best player in jeopardy.
What Will Happen Now That Bamba is Back?Defense is still his calling card, and the freshman is second in the country with 3.8 blocks per game, but in the second half of the season he displayed more confidence with the ball. Bamba, a projected NBA draft lottery pick, played 14 minutes during Texas’ loss to Texas Tech in the Big 12 tournament. The 6-foot-11 center missed the previous three games dealing with a toe injury. Bamba is averaging 12.9 points and 10.4 rebounds per game this season. He said that having the week off between the conference and NCAA tournament was a big help in terms of his recovery and is ready to play all 40 minutes.Sophomore guard Jacob Young set a career high with 29 points (11-17 FG, 6-7 threes) against Texas Tech in the Big 12 Championship quarterfinals. Over the last five contests, Young has averaged a team-high 14.4 points per game while converting 50% (27-54) from the floor, including a 46.4% mark (13-28) from three-point range, in 32.2 minutes per contest.Sharing the basketball is not the Longhorns’ forte; they produce just 0.47 assists per made field goal, ranking among the 25 worst teams in the country in that category. The Longhorns make only 31.4 percent from 3-point range (328th in the country) and 66.5 percent from the free throw line (320th). Only Bamba and Kerwin Roach make more than 43 percent of their shots.The Horns lost their lone meeting with Nevada back in 2005.
Latest NCAA Basketball Odds Trends
- Longhorns are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games following a straight up loss.
- Longhorns are 0-8 ATS in their last 8 NCAA Tournament games.
- Texas is 0-4 ATS in their last 4 vs. Mountain West.
- Wolf Pack are 17-3-1 ATS in their last 21 games following a straight up loss.
- Wolf Pack are 4-1-1 ATS in their last 6 Friday games.
- Nevada is 34-20 ATS (+12.0 Units) as a favorite over the last 2 seasons.