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November 22, 2014

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Vegas Play of the Day: New Mexico vs. Stanford

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

New Mexico center Alex Kirk and San Diego State forward .Skylar Spencer leap for a rebound during their Mountain West Conference tournament championship game Saturday, March 15, 2014 at the Thomas & Mack Center. The Lobos won their third straight title, defeating the Lobos 64-58.

At least we hit our Play of the Day, which uses odds from the South Point, on the first big day of the NCAA Tournament.

That was one of my only personal positives on the start of the biggest sports betting weekend of the year. Thursday was rough, but Friday brings a stacked card to get some money back — specifically, in this case, a part of the fictional $10,000 starting bankroll.

No. 10 seed Stanford plus-3.5 vs. No. 7 seed New Mexico: $440 to win $400

The popular consensus on this South Region contest in Saint Louis is that the Lobos’ big men will prove too much for the Cardinal. Sounds like a slight to Stanford’s frontcourt and an underestimation of its guards.

Stanford senior forwards Dwight Powell and Josh Huestis have held their own against heralded players inside the paint all season. Alex Kirk, and especially Cameron Bairstow, are fantastic for the Lobos but that’s a better opposing duo than they’ve seen during a weak year in the Mountain West Conference.

Just as importantly, the Cardinal might have an overall advantage on the perimeter.

New Mexico senior point guard Kendall Williams is finishing off a terrific career, but Stanford counterpart Chasson Randle has been just as efficient if not better this season. The Cardinal’s Anthony Brown is a superior option to anyone the Lobos have on the wing.

Handicapping emotion is always tricky, but New Mexico must feel satisfied — even if it’s just subconsciously — after avenging a loss to San Diego State to win the Mountain West Conference tournament title last weekend. Stanford’s angry after getting blown out by UCLA in the Pac-12 Conference tournament semifinals.

There were recent rumblings that Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins needed to do more than just make the NCAA Tournament to get off the hot seat. His players surely heard them, and will rally around the challenge.

Standings: Bern (16-10, $11,440), Keefer (11-12, $8,897), Brewer (8-13-3, $6,450)

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

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