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October 31, 2014

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NCAA Tournament opening lines: UNLV a 2.5-point favorite against Cal

Four of five Mountain West Conference teams favored in first game

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The sports book at Wynn Las Vegas is shown Wednesday, May 4, 2011.

The Rebel Room

Rebels get a rematch in NCAA Tournament

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The brackets are out and the Las Vegas Sun sports team is here to discuss UNLV's draw as the 5-seed in San Jose, Calif., and a rematch with Cal.

2013 Selection Sunday

Members of the UNLV men's basketball team, from left, Anthony Bennett, Savron Goodman, and Anthony Marshall, learn their selection while watching the NCAA Tournament's Selection Show at the Mendenhall Center Sunday, March 17, 2013. UNLV will play Golden Bears in its NCAA tournament opener on Thursday at HP Pavilion in San Jose. Launch slideshow »

Note: Complete odds for the first 32 games are available at the bottom of the page.

For the third straight year, oddsmakers opened UNLV as a slight favorite in its first NCAA Tournament game.

The sixth-seeded Rebels will look to cover as a favorite in the tournament for the first time since 1991 when they take on 11th-seeded California on Thursday. UNLV is a 2.5-point favorite, according to Wynn Las Vegas, which was the first sports book in town to post numbers on the opening 32 games of March Madness.

The Rebels were a 1.5-point underdog when they beat the Golden Bears 76-75 earlier in the season.

“Any time when you have a game like that where it was very close, I think the advantage goes to the loser of the first matchup,” said LVH Superbook Executive Director Jay Kornegay. “I think Cal will be a little more motivated to beat UNLV than the other way around. UNLV is going to have to overcome that.”

While Kornegay may not have liked UNLV’s first matchup, he considered the immediate draws for the other four teams favorable.

Third-seeded New Mexico, the conference champions, gives Harvard 11.5 points while No. 7 seed San Diego State is minus-2.5 against Oklahoma.

Boise State is favored, albeit by only a point, in its “First Four” game Wednesday against La Salle. Eighth-seeded Colorado State is the only Mountain West team posted as an underdog, as the Rams get 2.5 points from No. 9 seed Missouri.

“The Mountain West has received a lot of publicity throughout the entire season,” Kornegay said. “It’s had a lot of high marks across rating systems. It’s time to produce because they don’t have a very good history in this tournament. This year is the time to do it.”

Find the full list of opening odds from the Wynn below.

First Four

No. 16 Liberty +1 vs. No. 16 North Carolina A&T

No. 11 Middle Tennessee State +2.5 vs. No. 11 Saint Mary’s

No. 16 LIU-Brooklyn -1 vs. No. 16 James Madison

No. 13 Boise State -1 vs. No. 13 La Salle

Midwest region

No. 8 Colorado State +2.5 vs. No. 9 Missouri

No. 5 Oklahoma State -3.5 vs. No. 12 Oregon

No. 4 Saint Louis -10 vs. No. 13 New Mexico State

No. 3 Michigan State -10 vs. No. 14 Valparaiso

No. 7 Creighton -2.5 vs. No. 10 Cincinnati

No. 2 Duke -19 vs. No. 15 Albany

West region

No. 1 Gonzaga -22.5 vs. No. 16 Southern

No. 8 Pittsburgh -4.5 vs. No. 9 Wichita State

No. 5 Wisconsin -4.5 vs. No. 12 Ole Miss

No. 6 Arizona -4 vs. No. 11 Belmont

No. 3 New Mexico -11.5 vs. No. 14 Harvard

No. 7 Notre Dame -1 vs. No. 10 Iowa State

No. 2 Ohio State -14 vs. No. 15 Iona

South region

No. 1 Kansas -20 vs. No. 16 Western Kentucky

No. 8 North Carolina -4 vs. No. 9 Villanova

No. 5 VCU -7 vs. No. 12 Akron

No. 4 Michigan -11 vs. No. 13 South Dakota State

No. 6 UCLA +3 vs. No. 11 Minnesota

No. 3 Florida -19.5 vs. No. 14 Northwestern State

No. 7 San Diego State -2.5 vs. No. 10 Oklahoma

No. 2 Georgetown -14.5 vs. No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast

East region

No. 8 North Carolina State -4 vs. No. 9 Temple

No. 5 UNLV -2.5 vs. No. 12 California

No. 4 Syracuse -13 vs. No. 13 Montana

No. 6 Butler -3.5 vs. No. 11 Bucknell

No. 3 Marquette -3.5 vs. No. 14 Davidson

No. 7 Illinois -1.5 vs. No. 10 Colorado

No. 2 Miami -13 vs. No. 15 Pacific

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

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