Daily Bet: New Mexico -9.5 vs. USC

Played a big Mountain West Conference favorite last night and got burned big-time (and by “burned big-time” I mean UNLV never so much as led by double digits at crappy Portland, let alone had the 13½-point spread covered). So why not go with another huge Mountain West chalk tonight? Here’s the difference: The Rebels were on the road (where they’ve now failed to cover in 11 straight games) and their best player (Mike Moser) was a late scratch; New Mexico is playing in The Pit (easily one of the 10 most intimidating arenas in college hoops), and the Lobos don’t have anyone listed on the injury report.

Granted, while New Mexico is off to an 8-0 start, it is just 2-5 against the spread, with all five point-spread failures coming at home. But it’s not like USC has been ringing the cash register, either. The Trojans are just 3-4 overall and 2-4 against the number, with one of those covers occurring in a 59-53 overtime win over Texas in Hawaii. More to the point, dating to last season, USC has cashed just six times in its last 20 games, going 1-7 ATS in its last eight true road contests.

Since knocking off Texas, the Trojans have dropped three in a row to Marquette (72-64 in Hawaii), San Diego State (66-60 at home) and Nebraska (63-51 in Lincoln on Monday). They’ve also got a 30-point loss to Illinois in Hawaii on their ledger.

The biggest difference between these squads? New Mexico can fill the bucket (averaging 73 points per game), while USC would have trouble throwing a pebble into the ocean—take out a season-opening 87-point effort against Coppin State and the Trojans are putting up just 60 points per game. Even better, after the 51-point effort at Nebraska, here are USC’s point totals in non-neutral-site road games since the start of last season: 54, 56, 40, 49, 43, 62, 59, 53, 41, 54, 54, 52, 40, 51. Conversely, New Mexico has scored at least 69 points in 17 of its last 23 home games.

You do the math.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆

Tuesday’s Result: UNLV -13.5 at Portland (loss)

Record: 69-60-1