BANKER (UNLV vs. Boise State)
UNLV has been somewhat disappointing this year as they had decent expectations with the transfers, they brought in but simply haven’t lived up to the hype. However, they have been playing their best ball as of late including an almost shocking 14-point win on the road against Colorado St. UNLV can beat anyone at any time because of one guy, Bryce Hamilton. Hamilton is electric and can take over a game at nearly any time. Hamilton is averaging 225/2 on 45% shooting and 37% shooting from deep which are solid numbers for a volume shooter. They take on a Boise State team who has been the talk of the mountain west and one of the better mid majors in the country. Boise St is currently tied for first in the mountain west with a 9-1 record and are 18-5 overall.
Boise St has found nearly improbable ways to win games but one thing about them is that they always play close games. They don’t tend to blow teams out and I see UNLV being able to hang around in this game because of that. Prior to their last win against San Jose St, where they didn’t cover a double digit spread, they had played 7 games in a row that were all decided by 10 points or less and 6 of those games were decided by 7 points or less. I don’t necessarily expect UNLV to pull the upset here, but I am not going to be surprised if this is a close game down the stretch because of Boise St’s inability to put games away. I think Bryce Hamilton is going to have a big game and UNLV is going to need strong performances from Texas Transfer, Donovan Williams, who could present a real mismatch with his size and skillset at 6’6. Score Prediction: 69-64 Boise St
Akron has been a very solid team out of the MAC this year as they come into this game with a 16-6 record overall and are currently 3rd in the MAC only 1.5 games behind 1st place. They take on a Kent St team in what I believe to be a perfect revenge spot. Kent St took down Akron at home earlier in the season in a low scoring affair, but I think Akron is going to shoot much better this time around. Akron hit their stride since that earlier loss to Kent St as they have gone 7-1 since that game with their only loss being on the road to Toledo who is currently first in the MAC. Kent St has also been playing well but I am trusting the Zips tonight to bounce back in what should be a very good game to watch. Score Prediction: 74-67 Akron.
UConn is very good team out of the Big East who I think is good enough to make a sweet 16 or even an Elite 8. They have size, toughness, experience, and outside shooting. In this matchup, they face a Xavier team who has been very hot and cold and is not playing well at the moment. Xavier has dropped their last 2 games including a bad home loss to DePaul where they were nearly 13-point favorites. An interesting stat that I found is that Xavier is 0-6 ATS this year at home in Big East play. They haven’t covered a single game at home in conference play which is surprising for such a good team. UConn has played excellent defense this year as they are ranked 40th in overall adjusted defensive efficiency, 14th in defensive effective field goal percentage, and 5th in the country in defensive 2-point percentage. I think Xavier is going to struggle to score the ball and I expect RJ Cole and Adama Sanogo to take over the game offensively and make big plays down the stretch to lead the Huskies to a win. Score Prediction: 71-66 UConn.