Nevada vs. New Mexico: Preview, TV schedule, live stream, radio, odds
Can the Lobos do it again?
No. 6 Nevada is looking for payback
WHO: Nevada Wolf Pack (22-1, 9-1 MW) vs. New Mexico Lobos (10-12, 4-6 MW)
WHEN: Saturday, Feb. 9 — 4:00 PM MT/3:00 PM PT
WHERE: Lawlor Events Center; Reno, Nevada (11,536)
TV: CBS Sports Network
STREAM: Get a one-week trial of FuboTV.
ODDS: Nevada -20.5
There are some striking similarities between Saturday’s match-up in the Lawlor Events Center between the No. 6 Nevada Wolf Pack (9-1 MW) and the New Mexico Lobos (4-6 MW) and their first meeting in Albuquerque.
For one, these teams have essentially maintained their trajectories.
Nevada, which suffered its only loss of the season on January 5 to New Mexico, has recovered with ease since the blowout loss, rolling through the the majority of their Mountain West competition. Only one game has been decided by less than 10 points, a last second thriller over Boise State in Taco Bell Arena.
Meanwhile, after one of the most surprising upsets in college basketball this season, New Mexico has struggled to build any momentum after handing the Wolf Pack their only loss in blowout fashion, falling back into the sub .500 category and losing six of their last eight contests. Most of those losses were by double digits, with exception to a last second loss to second place Utah State in Dreamstyle Arena – The Pit after a controversial call, which was admitted to be incorrect by Mountain West officials after the game.
In addition to similarities in the (inverse) continuity of each team’s trajectory, the last time each of these two teams played, Nevada was ranked sixth in the nation. That will be the case once more, but the contest this time will have a couple of key difference as well.
Nevada is seeking payback against a team which has its only hope of playing in the NCAA tournament in winning the Mountain West Conference tournament, and will very likely not be included in the 32 team National Invitational Tournament. This means that, for NCAA tournament seeding purposes, its not a game that would look very good for NET ratings.
Also, Nevada is the favorite by an even wider margin of victory than in the first game. In essence, the gap between these teams, per odds makers, is even greater in this game than the previous game when you take into account that the game is in the Lawlor Events Center.
In a post game interview, Nevada star Jordan Caroline, who finished with 40 points and 12 rebounds (good for his 41st career double-double, and most double-doubles in Mountain West history) against Colorado State on February 6, expressed his respect for New Mexico’s size and athleticism, and the his team’s readiness to play the Lobos again after being steamrolled the last time out.
But what was it that led to such a blowout for New Mexico the last time these two teams met? Some say it was the surprise of the freshly implemented zone that caused the Wolf Pack to struggle or revenge for the 25 point comeback show put on by Jordan Caroline in 2017. Others speculate that the Lobos simply caused match-up problems for the Wolf Pack. Others still claim it was the fiery three-point shooting or purely a stroke of luck. Of course in the world of sports, it’s never too far-fetched to say that the clothing may have had the greatest impact – maybe it was the golden New Mexico state flag-themed jerseys that topped it all off.
While it isn’t clear exactly why the Lobos were able to beat the Wolf Pack so handily on January 5 (then struggle against the rest of the Mountain West), Saturday’s match-up is sure to clear some things up.
Does Nevada have to be more worried than previously thought come tournament time because of match-up concerns? Was January 5 a fluke, or have the Wolf Pack found their “kryptonite”?
For the conference’s chances at a deep tournament run, and the sanity of Nevada fans abound, a Nevada win would be encouraging. After all, one has to hope that there is no true “kryptonite” to a team with at least three NBA prospects.
But for the Lobos and their fans, there would be plenty of consolation in knowing you’ve swept the Mountain West’s best, knowing that New Mexico’s average team experience is a mere 1.3 years.
While New Mexico has showed some spunk and improvement in the last few games, this should be a strong victory for the Wolf Pack, which should bring more fight to the game than the last contest. But you never know with New Mexico. They could beat No. 1 Tennessee one day and lose to San Jose State the next.