Mountain West Championship Game: New Mexico Lobos vs San Diego St Aztecs

2012 Mountain West Championship Game
#2 New Mexico Lobos vs #1 San Diego St Aztecs
Thomas & Mack Center – Las Vegas, Nevada

Saturday, March 10, 2012, 7:00 pm Eastern, TV: NBC Sports Net
Opening Line: New Mexico -4 1/2
Current Line: New Mexico -4 1/2
Opening Total: 132
Current Total: 132
Opening Money Line: New Mexico -190 / SDSU +160
Current Money Line: New Mexico -200 / SDSU +170

College Football Sportsbook
New Mexico and San Diego St meet for the Mountain West Title Saturday night in Las Vegas. The Lobos are 4.5 point favorites.

New Mexico and San Diego St are both 26-6 this season, and both finished tied for the Mountain West Conference title with 10-4 records. They have both been the two best teams in the Mountain West, a step ahead of UNLV. So it is only fitting that the Lobos and Aztecs meet in the Mountain West tournament final. The Lobos have won 4 straight games including a 79-64 win over Air Force in the quarters, and 72-67 over UNLV in the semifinals. The Lobos were down 17-4 early but New Mexico fought back to give UNLV their first loss of the season in Las Vegas. San Diego St has won 6 straight games including 65-62 over Boise St in the quarterfinals, and 79-69 over Colorado St in the semifinals. All four teams that played in the MWC semifinals are projected to make the NCAA tournament.

New Mexico leads the series 39-32 against San Diego St, but the Aztecs have won 11 of the last 15. The teams split the season series with each winning on the road. San Diego St won 75-70 in Albuquerque January 18, and New Mexico won in San Diego 77-67 February 15. This rivalry could end in the next year or two as San Diego St will move to the Big West.

New Mexico is coached by Steve Alford. The Lobos have wins over Arizona St, Washington St, Boston College, Missouri St, USC, Oklahoma St, New Mexico St  and Saint Louis. New Mexico swept Wyoming, Boise St, and Air Force, and split with the other 4 teams in the conference. The Lobos have losses to New Mexico St and Santa Clara.

San Diego St is coached by Steve Fisher, the MWC coach of the year. The Aztecs have wins over UC-Davis, USC, Long Beach St, Arizona, UC-Santa Barbara, Cal, UC-Riverside, UNLV, Colorado St twice, Air Force, Wyoming twice, Boise St 3 times, and TCU twice. SDSU has losses to Baylor, Creighton, UNLV, Colorado St, and Air Force. San Diego St has played in the championship game of the MWC tournament 3 years in a row.

New Mexico is outscoring opponents 73-59 this season. The Lobos are #13 nationally in points allowed. New Mexico is shooting 46.3% from the field and 38.5% from 3 point range. The Lobos make 70.1% of their free throws. New Mexico averages 37.9 rebounds a game with a rebounding margin of +6.7. The Lobos average 16.3 assists, 13.4 turnovers, 7.1 steals, and 3.3 blocks a game. New Mexico opponents are shooting 38.2% from the field and 30.6% from 3 point range. The Lobos are #6 in opponent’s field goal percentage and #29 in 3 point percentage. New Mexico forces 14.7 turnovers a game.

New Mexico forward Drew Gordon averages 13.3 points, 10.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1 block a game. He leads the Lobos in scoring, rebounding, and blocks. Kendall Williams averages 12.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.3 steals a game. He leads the team in assists and steals, and makes 36.5% of his 3 point attempts. Tony Snell averages 10.8 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 2.3 assists a game. He makes 38.8% from 3 point range. Demetrius Walker, Jamal Fenton, and Hugh Greenwood also get significant minutes.

San Diego St is outscoring opponents 71-63 this season. The Aztecs are shooting 45.8% from the field and 33.8% from 3 point range. SDSU makes 69.8% from the free throw line. The Aztecs average 37 rebounds a game with a rebounding margin of +4.6. SDSU averages 12.4 assists, 12.7 turnovers, 5.7 steals, and 2.3 blocks a game. Aztec opponents are shooting 39.9% from the field and 33.4% from 3 point range. San Diego St forces 13.1 turnovers a game.

SDSU guard Jamaal Franklin averages 17.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1 steal, and 0.7 blocks a game. He leads the Aztecs in scoring, rebounds, and blocks, and is shooting 30.7% from 3 point range. He is the MWC player of the year. Chase Tapley averages 15.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.8 steals a game to lead the team. He is shooting 42.8% from 3 point range. Xavier Thames averages 10.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 4.3 assists a game to lead the team. James Rahon averages 8.9 points, and 2.8 rebounds a game. Garrett Green, Tim Shelton, and Deshawn Stephens also get significant minutes.

New Mexico is 21-8 ATS and the total is 16-12-1 this season. San Diego St is 16-13 ATS and the total is 15-13-1 this season. SDSU is 5-2 ATS in the last 7 against New Mexico, and the over is 12-3-1 in the last 16. The Lobos are 4-0 ATS in Mountain West games, in neutral site games, and as a neutral site favorite, 5-1 in Saturday games, 21-5 overall, 7-2 against teams with winning records, and as a favorite of 6.5 points or less, 20-6 as a favorite, 19-6-1 after a straight up win, and 58-25-5 after a cover. The Aztecs are 7-1 ATS as an underdog, 4-1-1 as a neutral site underdog, 12-3-1 as an underdog of 6.5 points or less, 10-4 after a straight up win, 5-2 in neutral site games, 40-17 in Saturday games, 31-14-1 against teams with winning records, and 4-1 after a cover.

These two teams are very evenly matched, and this game should come down to the wire. I think New Mexico’s defense will be the difference, and the Lobos come out on top.

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