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October 24, 2014

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Vegas Play of the Day: New Mexico at San Diego State

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

New Mexico guard Kendall Williams holds up his shirt for fans after their Mountain West Conference Tournament championship game against UNLV Saturday, March 16, 2013 at the Thomas & Mack Center. New Mexico won 63-56.

The Mountain West has been the unofficial conference of choice in the Play of the Day series.

It wouldn’t feel right straying from the resident league when it produces a one-off for the conference championship in the final game of the year. Taylor Bern primarily used MWC action to build up from his starting bankroll of $10,000.

My expertise falls far short of his on these teams but I’ll still attempt to use the South Point odds to sign the regular season off appropriately.

New Mexico plus-5 at San Diego State: $330 to win $300

I’ve got no fancy analysis or loquacious posturing for this one. I settled on this game using the oldest handicapping technique — the eye test.

Having watched the Aztecs and Lobos closely over the last couple weeks, I’m convinced the latter is the better team at this point of the season. That’s not to take anything away from San Diego State’s season, which has been exceptional in every regard.

But it’s hard to watch the Aztecs without thinking they’ve overachieved, and that at some point, it’s going to catch up with them.

In a sense, it already started to a couple Saturdays ago. That’s when the Lobos smashed them, 58-44, at the Pit.

New Mexico’s two big men, Cameron Bairstow and Alex Kirk, minimized San Diego State’s usual rebounding advantage. The talk of San Diego State point guard Xavier Thames — averaging 16 points and four assists per game— possibly taking MWC Player of the Year honors from Bairstow — averaging 20 points and seven rebounds per game — is preposterous.

Thames might not be the best floor general in the gym. I’d take New Mexico’s Kendall Williams, who thoroughly outplayed Thames in the teams’ first meeting this season.

Betting against San Diego State at hostile Viejas Arena sounds frightening, but it’s only 6-6 against the spread at home this season. Going with my gut here. Actually, make that my eyes.

Standings: Bern (14-8, $11,240), Keefer (8-10, $8,867), Brewer (6-11-3, $6,760)

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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