New Mexico State vs. UConn Odds, Picks, and Predictions (3/17/22)

The New Mexico State Aggies of the Western Athletic Conference get ready to take on the UCONN Huskies this Thursday at 6:50 PM EST at KeyBank Center in Buffalo New York. In what will serve as the 5 vs 12 matchup of the West region, both teams have something to prove beyond just “making it there”.

Despite being one of the most storied programs in college basketball, the UCONN Huskies haven’t won a tournament game since the Obama administration, their last win coming in 2016. Fresh off a strong 3rd place finish in the Big East that saw them beat Villanova once and play them tight in the Big East tournament, this UCONN team certainly has the talent to end this drought and possibly pull off a run. The Aggies, meanwhile, look to win their first tournament game since the 2014-2015 season in their 4th trip to March Madness in 6 years. The winner of Thrusday’s game will face the winner of Arkansas vs Vermont on Saturday March 19th in the Round of 32.

New Mexico State vs. UCONN Betting Odds

New Mexico State Odds

Finishing the regular season with a 26-6 record, the Aggies were led by duo Teddy Allen and Sir’Jabari Rice in the backcourt. The 2 Junior guards led the team in points, rebounds, and assists in addition to minutes and turnovers. The Aggies often go as they go — when the two combined for 8-25 from the field on February 26th, the Aggies suffered their worst loss of the season to Chicago State.

The matchup between Allen and UCONN guard Tyrese Martin, both of whom are 6’ 6” and physical, will be an interesting one to keep an eye on. They are two of the only guards in the game to lead their team in rebounding and are used to being the biggest one on the court at their position. There could be some potential to bet the under on their rebounds in this game — particularly Martin’s — because of this.

New Mexico State’s biggest win this season came against Davidson on November 18th, when they beat the Wildcats 75-64. Other than that, they haven’t played many notable teams. It is worth noting that New Mexico State has the 5th highest “luck” rating of every team in this year’s tournament, according to KenPom. Luck rating measures the difference between what a team’s record is in actuality vs what one would expect it to be based on their efficiency metrics.

UConn Odds

UCONN is one of just 11 teams in the country to have both a top 25 offense and a top 40 defense and is one of just two teams seeded 5 or lower to meet both criteria — Houston being the other —, according to KenPom. They are led by G RJ Cole on offense who is averaging 15.7 points and 4 assists per game. Much of their offense revolves around using the high pick and roll with F Adama Sanogo to create either mid range jumpers for Cole or layups for Sanogo.

Sanogo could very well be a deciding factor in this game for the Huskie. If the Aggies backcourt duo can cancel out Cole and Martin, it is going to be Sanogo who is going to be looked at to produce, and sportsbooks know it. You can’t get an alternative line on Sanogo over 9.5 and even that is -350. His current total is 13.5 and may be worth a flier especially given that he has 2 inches on his likely defender Johnny McCants.

UCONN’s biggest wins this year came against Nova and Auburn, while their biggest loss came to West Virginia in early December.

New Mexico State vs. UConn Picks & Prediction

The spread for this game is currently UCONN -6.5 and I like the Huskies with the points. They have the decided efficiency advantage on both sides of the floor and have the personnel in the backcourt to mitigate any sort of size advantage New Mexico State has with Rice and Allen. The Huskies have consistently beaten teams they should by double digits and have even pulled off some upsets against good teams like Auburn and Villanova. If not for a close loss to Nova in the Big East semis, there’s a good shot that the Huskies win the Big East tournament and are at least a high 4 seed. The Aggies, on the other hand, had to squeak out a win against Grand Canyon just to get here and even lost to Chicago St during the season — one of the worst programs in Division I.

Regarding the total, I like the under at 132 given that both teams play a relatively slow tempo and matchup well with each other.

March Madness Bracket

As a central Ohio native and lifelong Cleveland sports fan, Patrick Monnin has lived the emotional rollercoaster every sports fan knows all too well. Whether it be the Browns or the Buckeyes, he loves watching football and going on nice long runs in the afternoon. In the local Chicago area, where he now lives, he can often be found making the case for LeBron James as the greatest basketball player ever.

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