Money never sleeps in Las Vegas, where the action at the sports books was off and running early Thursday morning on college basketball conference tournaments.
In one of three men’s tournaments taking place in Las Vegas, UNLV will host rival UNR at noon Thursday in a Mountain West quarterfinal matchup at the Thomas & Mack Center. The No. 22 Wolf Pack are 5½-point favorites over the Rebels at most spots after the line opened at 5.
Handicapper Bernie Fratto, an ESPN 1100 radio host, expects UNR to cover the spread.
“I was surprised the send-off line was 5. I’d have made it probably 9,” he said. “I was there last week when Reno could’ve named the score.”
UNR, which has won six of its last seven games while going 4-3 ATS, whipped UNLV 101-75 on Feb. 28 in Las Vegas as a 2-point favorite. It reached the century mark when a Wolf Pack football player scored on a reverse layup in the final minute.
The Rebels outlasted Air Force 97-90 in overtime Wednesday to snap a five-game losing streak. UNLV is on a 1-6 slide ATS.
“UNLV’s game went to overtime and it had a short bench and used up a lot of gas in the tank,” said Fratto (BernieFratto.com). “Meanwhile, Reno is rested and (angry), coming off a (regular season-ending) loss to San Diego State. They want to get a (NCAA Tournament) bid and right now they’re projected to be a sixth seed.
“Nevada is loaded with 3-point shooters and has a prolific offense. (Coach) Eric Musselman has a killer instinct and I think Reno has got it in for the Rebels and it should be a double-digit win.”
UNLV upset UNR 86-78 in Reno on Feb. 7 as an 8-point underdog. But the Wolf Pack were missing Caleb Martin, the Mountain West Player of the Year.
The total for Thursday’s game is 163½. The Rebels are one of the top over teams in the country this season with a 20-11-1 over-under mark and have gone over in three of their last four games. UNR has gone over in 16 of its 31 games (16-14-1), including three of its last five.