Fresno State Bulldogs vs. UNLV Rebels – College Basketball, February 24, 2021

By Dean McHugh in College Basketball
| February 24, 2021 8:19 am PDT

Although most will perceive this as the first of two dead rubbers matches to finish the regular season for both of these teams, there are bragging rights to play for if you look a little closer. A win for the Bulldogs will cement their position above the Rebels, and it will really make the final game a dead rubber match. However, if the Rebels can win this one, it will put them level with the Bulldogs and set up a winner takes all final encounter.

UNLV halted a run of seven straight defeats against Fresno State and have gone on to start their own streak by winning the last two games between them.

The Bulldogs are averaging six more points per game than the Rebels over the previous ten head-to-head games between them. This has mostly been down to the Rebels taking an age to get going as they have only averaged 29 first-half points in those ten matches. If they are to win this one and set up a decider to see who comes above the other, they will certainly have to shoot better than they have in those games as they have a field goal percentage of less than 40%.

Bulldogs vs. Rebels Odds

Bulldogs +7-110
Rebels -7-110
Bulldogs To Win+260
Rebels To Win-300
Over 130.5 Points-110
Under 130.5 Points-110

When you look at the season as a whole, it is hard to see why the Rebels are such overwhelming favorites to win this game. I also think that the points total looks low, and I mean really low.

Fresno State has not won any of their eight games this season that they entered as the underdogs. In total contrast to that, UNLV has a record of 6-1 as favorites this season.

Bulldogs Analysis 

The Bulldogs are coming off the back of two tough defeats against the top of the table San Diego State. Before that, they had two small margin victories over the bottom team Air Force which doesn’t bring them into this game in this best of form.

They have a poor record on the road this season, having won twice and lost five. However, those two wins did come in their last two away fixtures against Air Force, so all is not lost tonight.

Here are the latest betting trends for Fresno State:

  • They have only won two of the last ten matches against the spread.
  • Eight of their previous 12 games have gone under the betting total.
  • The Bulldogs have enjoyed playing against the Rebels, having only lost once against the spread in their last nine matches.
  • Fresno State has lost six of their previous seven matches against the spread on the road.
  • They haven’t lost any of the last five games against the spread on the road to UNLV.
  • The total has gone over in eight of their previous 11 matches played on a Wednesday.
  • Fresno State has lost their last 11 games that they entered as the betting outsider.

The Bulldogs have certainly lacked bite in attack this season, and if it weren’t for their excellent offensive rebounding, they would undoubtedly be in the dog pound.

They haven’t shot well this season, especially from distance, where they have the second-lowest success rate in the Mountain West. Their poor passing has been a telling factor in this as they have failed to open their opponents up regularly. This has also meant that they often try to force the issue and make many turnovers.

As you might expect from a team with such a poor record on the road, their attack hasn’t played as well away from home, averaging six fewer points per game this season.

Fresno’s defense is good, and much like their attack has rebounded well for the majority of the season. Their defense has also been worse on the road and has conceded five more points per game which means they are 11 points worse off on the road this season, so it could be a long night for them tonight.

Orlando Robinson has been the main focal point for the Bulldogs this season, and his form against Air Force was brilliant recently, and he will be hoping to continue that in the coming games against UNLV.

The Bulldogs have a clean bill of health and no absentees tonight.

Rebels Analysis 

The Rebels are finishing the season strong and have won four of their previous six games. Although perhaps one of their defeats during that period was their most satisfactory result as they pushed Boise State all the way and narrowly lost by two points. UNLV led at halftime by a single point, but they couldn’t quite keep things going and eventually lost a very low-scoring game 61-59. You could argue Boise State had an off night as they shot at only 37%, but you have to ask the question were they allowed to play their regular flowing game or did the Rebels restrict them?

UNLV has been good at home this season and has won seven and lost four of their 11 matches. Those seven wins have come in their previous eight home games, making the Thomas and Mack Center a bit of a fortress. Although apart from Utah State, the level of competition they have beaten has been very poor.

Here are the latest betting trends for UNLV:

  • The Rebels have lost seven of their previous nine games against the spread.
  • Five of their last seven matches have gone under the betting total.
  • Only one of the last six games between these two teams has failed to go under the points total.
  • UNLV has an outstanding record in February, having won nine of their previous 12 matches.
  • Their last five games played on a Wednesday have all gone over the betting total.

The Rebels have a better offense than the Bulldogs, but it still isn’t great. However, in contrast to Fresno, they have shot well from distance, which could be their key to victory tonight.

Their defense matches up well to the Bulldog’s defense, but you would have to say it is marginally better. They tend to sit deep and invite teams on to them, which helps them make many defensive rebounds, and they can also counter-attack swiftly. This does leave them open against teams that shoot will from range, but that shouldn’t be an issue tonight.

Their quick counter-attacking style of play means that their opponents struggle to often get close to them, resulting in them being the least fouled team in the Mountain West.

They have defended even better at home this season, conceding five fewer points per game.

Junior Bryce Hamilton is becoming a great team player this season, and although he has had an injury-hit campaign, he has still managed to improve upon most of his stats. They will need him to be on point tonight to pick up the win.

The Rebels will miss Coleman and Lindsey tonight, while Hurlburt remains questionable to be involved.

Bulldogs vs. Rebels Pick

  • Rebels To Win

This is a fascinating matchup and will likely be won by the team who defends better on the night. UNLV has won all eight games that they have restricted their opponents to 60 points or less. Similar to this, the Bulldogs have won all nine games when they have limited their opposition to 65 points or fewer. The Rebels have a better defense, and given how bad the Bulldogs have been on the road this season, I have to take UNLV to win.

I think they match up nicely against Fresno, and they are strong where the Bulldogs are weaker. However, I still stand by the notion that the spread is too big, and I won’t be taking it on tonight.



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