Thursday night doesn’t have a full slate of college basketball, but more than enough action for college basketball fans and handicappers. In what I regard as the game of the night on Thursday, the San Diego State Aztecs travel to the desert for a meeting with the Arizona State Sun Devils at Desert Financial Arena. These are two Top 25 teams meeting for what should be an entertaining affair. This is the only game of the evening that features two ranked teams.
San Diego State is looking for redemption after a potential deep run in the NCAA Tournament was shuttered because of Covid-19. San Diego State were 30-2 before the season was closed for good. There were hopes of playing the NCAA Tournament in a bubble, but when everything else shut down, including the major sports, there was no maneuvering for the NCAA. The Aztecs are back at it again in 2020-21, and have their two important pieces from the 2019-20 roster.
If all goes according to plan, San Diego State is going to be a tough out again late in the season. Jordan Schakel and Matt Mitchell both return to the floor after a productive campaign a season ago. They both averaged in the double digits and played a pivotal role in getting San Diego State to 30-2. There is a big absence on the floor for the Aztecs, though. Malachi Flynn, San Diego State’s leading-scorer, was drafted by the Toronto Raptors late in the first round of the NBA Draft. With Flynn gone, San Diego State can still be a really good team, though.
Arizona State are coming off a 20-11 season in the Pac-12. The Sun Devils didn’t do anything particularly well, but were a well-rounded team both defensively and offensively. Arizona State has leading-scorer, Remy Martin, back for the 2020-21 campaign. His return to college was imperative for the Sun Devils. Martin scored 19.1 points per game, along with 4.1 assists last season. The 22-year-old brings grit and leadership back to Arizona State. Head below for our free San Diego State vs. Arizona State pick for December 10, 2020.
San Diego State Aztecs vs. Arizona State Sun Devils NCAAM Betting Odds:
San Diego State vs. Arizona State Prediction:
San Diego State are off to a quick start with four wins in four games. The Aztecs opened the year with a small upset, but big win over the UCLA Bruins, 73-58. That was incredibly impressive as a small underdog. The game was expected to be tight, but San Diego State pulled away to put away the Bruins.
There was the potential for a letdown spot for the Aztecs in their next outing. However, that certainly wasn’t the case, as they pushed UC Irvine around for a 77-58 win. Pepperdine, who they recently played on Sunday, offered the most resistance in a 65-60 win for San Diego State.
The Aztecs prided themselves on their lockdown defense last season. It has been more of the same for them this season. Malachi Flynn was underrated defensively for San Diego State, and the program thought missing him would remove an important piece from the defense, not just on the offensive side of the floor.
Thus far, though, San Diego State has been relentless defensively without Flynn. They were third in the nation with just 59.5 points against per game in 2019-20. In four games, the most they’ve allowed is 60 points against Pepperdine. It can be incredibly frustrating for an offense to play against a team like San Diego State.
The Sun Devils should offer a decent challenge on Thursday night, though. They enter with a record of 3-1, with a 83-74 loss against Villanova on their resume. Their wins have been against Rhode Island, Houston Baptist, and Cal. This is a game that pits defense against offense. The Sun Devils will want to run and shoot to try to hide their average defense.
Rhode Island, Villanova, and Houston Baptist all eclipsed 75 points on the Sun Devils. Through the first three games, Arizona State were pounded for 82.6 points per game. They settled in against Cal, but that was a Golden Bears team who was ice cold from the field.
I don’t know if it would have mattered if Arizona State or a junior college was out there. Arizona State were 207th out of 353 teams with 70.5 points against per game in 2019-20. Against a team that loves to do the opposite and play defense tonight, this one should get interesting between the No. 24 and No. 23 teams in college basketball. I will take the points in what should be a tight contest throughout.