The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament kicks off the Final Four with the five-seed San Diego State Aztecs (31-6) matched up against the nine-seed Florida Atlantic Owls (35-3). SDSU were winners of the South Region, while the Owls captured the East Region title. Both teams are making their first Final Four appearance.
Saturday’s action tips off at 6:09 p.m. EST inside NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. SDSU is a 2.5-point favorite, and the over/under total is 131.5 points.
What to Know – #5 San Diego State Aztecs
San Diego State is setting new marks in the school’s record books with its run in the tournament. The Aztecs had only advanced to the Sweet 16 twice before this year, never advancing further in school history. SDSU got here with victories over the College of Charleston, Furman, Alabama, and Creighton.
On offense, the Aztecs score 71.5 points per game, connecting on 44.1% of their attempts from the field and 34.7% from deep. SDSU’s defense was the best in the Mountain West, limiting opponents to 62.9 ppg, 40.8% shooting from the floor, and 27.9% from three.
Four separate players have stepped up to lead the Aztecs in scoring through tournament play. Coming into the tournament, 6’4 senior guard Matt Bradley was the only SDSU player averaging in double figures at 12.5 ppg.
The Aztecs are 19-16-1 against the spread this year and 7-4 ATS playing at a neutral location. SDSU is a perfect 6-0 ATS over its previous six games.
What to Know – #9 Florida Atlantic Owls
The Cinderella’s of the teams remaining, Florida Atlantic has captured the hearts of the nation as this year’s underdog to root for. FAU had made the tournament just once prior in the program’s history, setting records this season with each victory. The Owls knocked out Memphis, Fairleigh Dickinson, Tennessee and Kansas State to earn a spot in Houston.
FAU’s offense averages 78.0 ppg thanks to 46.7% shooting from the floor and 36.5% from beyond the arc.
Defensively, the Owls surrender 65.1 ppg, 40.2% shooting from the field and 31.8% from the 3-point line.
Guards Johnell Davis (13.9 ppg) and Alijah Martin (13.1 ppg) pace the Owls in scoring. Davis has stepped the offensive production up a notch in the tournament, averaging 17.3 ppg.
FAU owns a 24-11-1 mark ATS and 5-2 record in games played on a neutral floor. The Owls are 4-1 ATS over their last five matchups.
The Pick is In
The defense for the Aztecs has stifled teams all tournament, holding three teams to below 60 points. FAU will have to find ways to attack and score on SDSU, but the Owls won’t be threatened by the Aztecs offense.
FAU has proved Vegas wrong through the first two weeks of the tournament, and with excellent guard play we like the Owls chances of continuing this Cinderella run to the title game.
The Pick: Florida Atlantic Owls +2.5