NCAA Tournament – First Round – Midwest Regional
(6) No. 16 San Diego State (23-4, 14-3) vs. (11) Syracuse (16-9, 9-7)
- Time: 6:40 PST – 8:40 CST – 9:40 EST
- Place: Hinkle Fieldhouse, Butler University, Indianapolis, Ind.
- TV: TBS
The Aztecs are rolling into the NCAA Tournament as they have won 14 in row as the last loss occurred on Jan. 16 and the string of 14 is the second longest in the nation as of now. Brian Dutcher joined the venerable Steve Fisher as the architects of the program. Dutcher has been for 15 of the program’s 18 tournament games and all six NCAA Tournament wins.
Hall of Fame Jim Boeheim saw his Syracuse Orange close strong down the stretch as they won six out of their last nine which included a tough buzzer-beater at the hands of Virginia in the ACC Tournament.
The Aztecs were one of the nation’s best a year ago with a 30-2 record as they likely would have been a No.1 seed in the NCAA Tournament before the influx of COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the nation’s number one sporting event.
The Aztecs are 6-12 all-time as they make their 13th appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
Vs. The Spread
San Diego State:
- The Aztecs are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games
- SDSU is 2-4 SU in their last 6 games vs. ACC competition
- The Aztecs are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games as the favorite
- The Orange is 4-1 ATS in the last 5 games
- The OVER has been the play in 4 of the ‘Cuse’s last 6 outings
- The Orange is 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games played in March
Last Time Out:
The third time was the charm for the Aztecs as they defeated Utah State, 68-57, in the Mountain West Championship game after losing the previous two to the Aggies. Matt Mitchell led the Aztecs with 14 points as SDSU held the Aggies to 37.3 percent and only three triples.
Virginia’s Reece Beekman hit a three at the buzzer t knock Syracuse out of the ACC quarterfinals, 72-69. It spoiled a mammoth effort from guard Buddy Boeheim who followed up a 27 point effort vs. NC State with 31 in the loss to the Cavaliers.
|Teams||Spread||Money Line||Total Points|
|Syracuse||+3 (-115)||+135||O 139½ (-115)|
|San Diego State||-3 (-105)||-155||U 139½ (-105)|
Advantage, San Diego State:
The Aztecs feel like a team that might be ready to make a deep run in this year’s NCAA Tournament behind the top player in the league in senior Matt Mitchell and another senior in Jordan Schakel. This the team is No. 11 in the nation in defensive efficiency as that feeds into the fact that they hold opponents to 38.7 percent from the floor and 60.6 points per game. Defending the three is where you start with Syracuse as Buddy Boeheim can heat up and he usually has stayed consistent at a high level through the season. Schackel’s length could give Boeheim problems.
Key Aztecs Stat:
Mitchell (15.4 ppg) and Schakel (14.3 ppg) are the Aztecs’ two leading scorers as Mitchell gets to the rims – see 151 free throw attempts – while Schakel has made 46.7 percent of his threes. Nathan Mensah is a blend of power and athleticism inside (8.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg) and leads the Aztecs on the offensive glass. Trey Pulliam has been solid in his last three games by averaging 12.7 points. The Aztecs haven’t seen a 2-3 zone defense for an entire 40 minutes in Mountain West play, so how they navigate this from the beginning will be important.
Terrell Gomez will give Orange guard Joseph Girard problems on the point as Gomez is playing his best basketball of the season. He is averaging 9.7 points and 1.7 assists in his last 10 games.
Establishing Quincy Guerrier in the paint will be important. He doesn’t have the athletic ability of the Aztecs inside, but he has a power game that has allowed him him to shoot 50 percent from the floor beside of Marek Dolezaj (54.8%) down low. This makes Boeheim even better from three where he averages 22.6 points over his last three games.
Key Orange Stat:
Alan Griffin (14.7 ppg) has been a steady player at guard as the second leading scorer and he shoots 37.2 percent from three. He shows up well on the defensive end as well as he picks up 33 steals behind Girard’s 38 and Kadary Richmond’s 45. San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher said Thursday that he was concerned about Richmond’s length in the 2-3 zone.
Griffin or Girard or both have to step up from behind the three-point line beside of Boeheim. The Orange make 34 percent of their triples on the year and they have to be able to spread out this vaunted San Diego State defensive attack.