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Mountain West vs Atlantic 10 here as the Nevada Wolfpack prepare to take on the Davidson Wildcats. Neither team has gotten off to an ideal start, as the Wolf Pack enters this one at 2-2, while the Wildcats sit at 1-2. Oddsmakers opened Davidson as a sizable favorite for this one, which will be streamed by ESPN+.
Down Year For Nevada?Nevada is entering a new era of basketball this season. Longtime coach Eric Musselman, who had done a great job at the school, left for Arkansas and a bigger payday. Nevada has made the NCAA tournament each of the past three seasons, but it remains to be seen whether they will be able to sustain that success without Musselman. They didn't just lose their head coach, they also lost the heart and soul of their team in the Martin twins, Cody and Caleb. They also lost Jordan Caroline, so altogether they lost each of their top three leading scorers from last season *and* their head coach. Not surprisingly, they are expected by many to take a step back this year.
They enter this one at 112th in analytics site Kenpom.com's rankings, and we've already started to see some regression. They lost to a mediocre Utah team in their opener and then lost to USC in their most recent game. They beat middling Loyola Marymount and UT Arlington teams by narrow margins for their two victories. This is their first road game of the season, and they could struggle with the hostile crowd. Nevada is just 1-6 against the spread in their last seven games. Outside of their top two scorers Jazz Johnson and Lindsey Drew, they don't have very much shooting at all. They only have one other guy shooting above 25 percent from three, and even he has only made six from deep all season.
Davidson Bounces BackDavidson is coming off a bit of a disappointing year. After making the NCAA tournament as a 12-seed two years ago, they failed to make it back to the big dance and went to the NIT instead. Davidson started the season off in brutal fashion. After an understandable lost to a ranked Auburn team in their first game, it looked like they were due for a huge bounce back against Charlotte. Instead, they got upset as very large favorites and ended up losing to Charlotte by 13 points.
That being said, it was a road game against Charlotte and they then came back with a very strong effort in their most recent game to improve to 1-2. Coming off the embarrassment against Charlotte they played lights out, beating UNC Wilmington by 38 points. The key to this game is going to be getting Kellan Grady going. Grady has shown the past two years that he's one of the best players in the conference and many have viewed him as a potential NBA prospect, but he's gotten off to a slow start. Through three games he's averaging only 13 points per contest and shooting just 28.6 percent from three. Given what he's shown in the past, it is only a matter of time before he shakes off the rust.
Davidson is still shooting the ball pretty well as a team, connecting on 39.5 percent of their treys. This is only the second home game of the season for Davidson, and we already saw what happened in their first one. Davidson's defense actually hasn't been terrible either, and I don't think their record is a reflection of what type of team they're going to be this season. They were also playing without Carter Collins in the loss to Charlotte, a junior who is averaging 15.5 points per game and is a key member of the starting lineup.
Trends, courtesy of Covers.com: Wildcats are:
- 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games after allowing less than 50 points in their previous game
- 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games following a straight up win of more than 20 points
Wolf Pack are:
- 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games overall
- 2-7 ATS in their last 9 games following an ATS loss
- 1-4 ATS in their last 5 non-conference games
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I think Davidson wins this one in a blowout. They got off to a slow start this season which has caused oddsmakers to undervalue them, but I think it's clear they're back on track after their 38-point win over UNCW. Davidson is shooting almost 40 percent from three this season as a team, and Nevada has virtually no three-point shooting at all. Nevada lost their head coach and each of their three leading scorers from last year's team, so it's almost a completely new squad that they're starting over with. That's a recipe for disaster in their first road game of the year.
Prediction: Davidson -8.5
Full-Game Total Pick
I think the under also makes some sense here. Nevada is replacing all almost all of their scoring from a season ago, and I expect them to struggle mightily offensively in their first road game of the year. Davidson's defense has quietly been pretty decent, and they're coming off a game in which they only gave up 49 points. Kellan Grady hasn't been the dynamic scorer that many have expected him to be so far this season, and Davidson's offense won't reach their full potential until he snaps out of it.