Utah State vs. Nevada Series Preview: How To Watch, Stream, Odds, More
Huge series for both teams.
Can the Wolf Pack show they are for real?
Game: Utah State 14-7 (11-4) vs Nevada 14-7 (9-5)
Location: Logan, Utah
TV: Game 1: FS1, 6:00 PST, Game 2: FS1, 4:00 PST
Odds via BetMGM: Aggies -8.5
Nevada travels to Logan, Utah to face the Aggies in what could have Mountain West tournament seeding implications. Nevada, who is a game and a half behind Utah State in the standings, could potentially jump the Aggies to land in the fourth place spot going into the Wolf Pack’s final game against Colorado State.
— Utah State Athletics (@USUAthletics) February 25, 2021
Utah State started scorching red hot in Mountain West play. The Aggies rattled off nine straight wins, including a series sweep against top 25 team San Diego State and a series split against a very good Colorado State team. Since that win streak, the Aggies have cooled off. Utah State has lost four out of their last six games including a sweep by Boise State and a series split against a bottom-tier UNLV team. Utah State is ranked an impressive 55 in the NCAA NET rankings, almost a full 50 spots ahead of the visiting Wolf Pack team. The Aggies currently sit on the NCAA tournament bubble as the “next four out” according to Joe Lunardi. A spot that will undoubtedly be in jeopardy with even just one loss to Nevada.
Utah State is led by none other than the Portuguese big man Neimas Queta who was second-team all-Mountain West last year and a preseason all-Mountain West player this year. Queta leads the team in scoring, FG percentage, blocks, rebounds and ranks second in assists. Outside of three point shooting, there is nothing Queta cannot do.
Behind Queta are Marco Anthony and Justin Bean who are the other two Aggies averaging in double digits. The secret to Utah State’s success is the Utah native Brock Miller who only averages nine points per game, but will explode for great scoring games like he did in his 20 point performance in the Aggies lone win over Colorado State. Miller was also the Aggies leading scorer during their two-game sweep of San Diego State. It really doesn’t matter who leads the way on the offensive end for Utah State because the Aggies will almost undoubtedly play brutish defense every single game.
The Aggies rank second in the Mountain West in both fewest points allowed and defensive field goal percentage. They also lead the conference in blocked shots thanks in part to Queta’s astounding 62 blocks on the year. Utah State is carried by their defense and can be a top tier team in the conference when that defense is parried with their explosive offense that can appear from time to time.
Feels good to say it again…
It's GAME DAY!!!
— Nevada Basketball (@NevadaHoops) February 26, 2021
Nevada is looking to get back into the swing of things after nearly three weeks off due to Covid-19 complications within the Wolf Pack program. Nevada does have some momentum coming into this series as they swept Boise State at home in their last two games, a team Utah State lost both of their games to. The Wolf Pack continue to play stout defense ranking third in the Mountain West in field goal defense and fourth in three point defense. Nevada, however, lacks in offense outside of the Wolf Pack’s prolific back court duo. Nevada ranks below the top five in the Mountain West in both offensive field goal percentage and three point percentage. If Nevada wants to sweep Utah State and move up into the fourth place in the Mountain West, the Wolf Pack needs a third scoring option to step up and provide offense to support Grant Sherfield and Desmond Cambridge.
In the two games against Boise State, Nevada got the usual scoring boost from Cambridge and Sherfield but was also provided a solid third scoring option from big men K.J. Hymes and Warren Washington. Hymes scored 17 points in the buzzer beater win in the first game of the series, while Washington had a double-double in their second game. Nevada only has two players averaging double-digit points. If the Wolf Pack want to make the much-anticipated jump up to the elite level in the conference, they need one more prolific scorer to step up. While an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament is unobtainable for the Wolf Pack, Nevada could steal an auto-bid from winning the Mountain West tournament. The road to the Mountain West championship starts tonight as a fourth place seed hangs in the balance.
Keys to the Game:
If Utah State wants to pull off the series sweep and keep their NCAA at-large hopes alive, they need to have consistent scoring from someone other than Queta. If Miller, Justin Bean, or even Rollie Worster can step up and help out Queta and Anthony on the scoring end, then the Aggies should be in a good position to sweep Nevada at home. Pair this ferocious defense with an efficient offense, and this team can contend with anyone in the conference.
If Nevada wants to pull off an upset and at least split the series in Logan, the Wolf Pack needs to find a way to limit Utah State scorers outside of Queta. Queta will perform almost every single game. The way to beat the Aggies is to make sure Queta is the only person contributing on the court. In Utah State’s two losses to Boise, Queta had two thirty point outings, but had minimal help from his teammates. If Nevada can limit the rest of the Aggies and score at a decent rate against this merciless defense, they could split this series.
Nevada is in a tough scenario here. Playing in Logan is never easy. Whether it is in front of 10,000 fans or the 1,600 that will be inside of Glen Smith Spectrum, the fans are as ruthless as they get. Nevada has always struggled in Logan and I don’t expect that to change in this series. Nevada will narrowly split the series with a high chance of getting swept. Game 1: Nevada 75- Utah State 69. Game 2: Nevada 65 – Utah State 77.