Utah Valley vs New Mexico
I can’t say I watch much Western Athletic or Mountain West Conference play. I also couldn’t tell you who won last year's National Invitation Tournament (NIT). What I do know is that the Utah Valley Wolverines versus the New Mexico Lobos is a 1st round game like no other. It’s rare to see a college basketball total set above 155 and even 150 is considered high. This total for the Wolverines against the Lobos opened at 162. Yes, that’s a lot of baskets, but if we dig into the statistics of each team we can see why and what side of the total we should be on.
Utah Valley is interesting because they’re in the WAC and their strength of schedule is weak. This causes their adjusted offensive efficiency (adjO) to be outside the top 100 and their adjusted defensive efficiency (adjD) to be top 40. Nonetheless, the Wolverines scored the nation's 65th best PPG at 76.9, and Boise State, a MWC opponent, hung a whopping 87 points on them. Meanwhile, New Mexico has a top 20 adjO which is up there with the likes of Alabama and Texas. The Lobos scored an average of 77.1 PPG in the 8 games they played against teams participating in March Madness, and Utah Valley is far from a team of that caliber. Pair that offense with a leaky defense that averaged 74 PA and we should see some high scores on both sides.
All of the numbers point towards this game going over the total. It’s certainly quite the hill to climb, but there’s great reasoning as to why the total was set so high in the first place. New Mexico is a dead over team, hitting the over on totals in 6 of their last 7 games. I expect New Mexico to score the way they always do, and Utah Valley should be able to find points against a defense of the same quality they’re used to. I can easily see the final score of this game being 81-90, Lobos win.
Pick: Utah Valley vs New Mexico o162