Air Force Vs. New Mexico: Odds, Picks, Predictions (1/27/23)

Is New Mexico poised to be this year’s March Madness media darling? Flirting with a top-25 ranking throughout the season, they have shown the ability to potentially contend with some of the bigger names in the nation when both ends of the court are clicking. They lack consistency as they just lost to the lowly Nevada Wolfpack in double overtime but are poised to bounce back against Air Force. Can they take care of business and get back on track?

Air Force Vs. New Mexico Odds

Oddsmakers think so as they opened New Mexico as a -12.5 favorite on their home court. Bettors actually believe this is a tad too high, backing Air Force down to +11.5 as of writing. This comes as a bit of a surprise as New Mexico is far and away better on both ends of the court, although their recent loss may give bettors a cause for concern. Still, projections have the Lobos as a -12.5 favorite on a neutral court, showing the current number has value in their favor should you want to back them.

As for the total, points are expected to be scored in a flash as oddsmakers opened the total at 141.5. Bettors are in agreement, taking the over up to as high as 142.5 with indicators pointing towards it to continually rise higher. Both units’ success this season have been reliant on their offensive ability with decent shooting percentages from the field as well as the perimeter. While Air Force’s production is based off of one player, New Mexico brings in a three headed dragon of lethal scorers.

Air Force Vs. New Mexico Prediction & Pick

The Pick: Wait on New Mexico spread to keep dropping

With Air Force being way too reliant on one scorer, the total is a pass for me as there is too much variance for my liking on their ability to contribute towards it. That makes me shift my attention towards the spread. As of now, I like New Mexico, but the early line movement has the number going against them. While it can be unsettling to go against line movement, I will patiently wait to see how low this can go before taking a position on the Lobos.

Their offensive production will simply be too much for the Air Force to handle as they can throw a trio of elite scorers at you. This has equated to an Adjusted Offensive Efficiency rating of 36th in the nation, being able to score against the best of them as well as qualifying as a championship-contending offense per historic metrics. They will have ample opportunity to show out their offense as Air Force is a weak defensive unit, ranking 177th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency per Kenpom.

The New Mexico shooting ability will be more vital than ever as they are expected to have fewer possessions than normal as Air Force plays at a snail’s pace. Air Force currently plays at a pace that is ranked 345th in the nation, bleeding precious time off the clock anytime the ball is in their hands. This gives some cause for concern in a variance aspect as a cold shooting night all but burns our New Mexico tickets.

Air Force Vs. New Mexico Key Matchups

Can New Mexico limit the scoring production of Jake Heidbreder?

Jake Heidbreder vs New Mexico perimeter defense

Air Force hasn’t really struck fear in their opponents as a whole, but they have a playmaker in Jake Heidbreder who can ball against the best of them. He has been their sole leader in offensive production, averaging 14.3 points per game on 47.4% completion percentage.

He will be the sole focal point for the New Mexico defense as Air Force has lacked any sort of secondary scoring. No other player is in double-digit scoring with 11 of them acquiring meaningful minutes.

New Mexico’s defense has been the definition of a roller coaster, playing up to their impressive 59th-ranked Adjusted Defensive Efficiency ranking while also giving up high-scoring affairs to inferior competition.

Going against a one-trick pony with the Air Force offense will help eliminate the defensive variance that we have seen New Mexico do, giving some security to an eventual position.

Verdict

Pass on this for now while we wait for New Mexico’s number to keep dropping before putting a wager on them.

Kody is a sports betting writer here at Lineups. He specializes in college sports as well as the NFL and NBA. He won’t quit believing in the Lions Super Bowl chances even when they are eliminated.

Hot College Basketball Stories