The Final Four kicks off with the lowest seed remaining, the Florida Atlantic Owls, taking on the San Diego State Aztecs.
#5 San Diego State (31-6) vs #9 Florida Atlantic Owls (35-3)
How to Watch:
- DATE: Saturday, April 1st
- TIME: 6:09 p.m. ET
- CHANNEL: CBS
- MONEYLINE: SDSU (-160) FAU (+135)
- SPREAD: SDSU -3
- TOTAL: 131.5
Final Four Tale of the Tape:
|San Diego State||STAT||Florida Atlantic|
|71.5 (198th)||Points Per Game||78.4 (39th)|
|62.9 (25th)||Points Allowed Per Game||65.0 (42nd)|
|266th||KenPom Adjusted Tempo||155th|
|75th||KenPom Off Ranking||24th|
|4th||KenPom DEF Ranking||
|35th||KenPom Strength of Schedule||
San Diego State leaders:
- Matt Bradley, G: 12.5 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 2.1 APG, 35.8% 3PT
- Lamont Butler, G: 8.7 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.5 SPG
Florida Atlantic leaders:
- Johnell Davis, G: 13.5 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.5 SPG, 39.3% 3PT
- Alijah Martin, G: 13.1 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.0 SPG, 36.4% 3PT
While San Diego State is making its first trip to the Final Four, they are no strangers to the NCAA Tournament having qualified in four of the last five possible seasons and winning at least 21 games each year. After winning 31 games this year, they have bruised their way into the Final Four after upsetting top-seed Alabama in the Sweet Sixteen and then topping Creighton at the very end in the Elite Eight.
That win meant that the Aztecs are now on an eight-game winning streak, and they’ve done it in large part because of their defense.
San Diego State held Creighton to 23 points in the second half and almost totally shut down the Blue Jays’ three-point shooting, holding them to 2-for-17 shooting (11.8%) and just 28% from the field overall in the second half, just like they did against Alabama the game before. FAU shoots 37.8% from three (22nd in the country), so they will need to keep hitting from deep if they have any chance against San Diego State.
Florida Atlantic won’t be intimidated by the challenge. They’ve won 35 games this year, beat tournament darling Kansas State in the Elite Eight, and have now won 11 consecutive games straight-up.
The Owls have a high-caliber offense, which scores 79.3 points per game (good for 26th in the nation) and shoots 47.2 percent from the field, which ranks 41st). However, they are a poor free-throw shooting team, hitting 71.2% which ranks 205th, and they can be sloppy with the ball.
They had 22 turnovers against Kansas State but were able to overcome that by shooting 48.1% from the field, 39.1% from beyond the arc, and crushing the rebounding margins. They are now facing a much better defense and a veteran team that is not going to allow the Owls to stay in the game if they keep turning the ball over.
Florida Atlantic is a solid defense as well and also plays at a relatively slow pace, but unfortunately, a grind-it-out defensive battle plays right into the hands of San Diego State. The Owls will need to push the pace a bit to make the Aztecs uncomfortable but that’s when the mistakes come.
In addition to having a defense ranked 4th in adjusted defensive efficiency and 25th in points allowed, the Aztecs have a veteran lineup that is showing its balance en route to the Final Four.
Senior guard Matt Bradley leads the team with 12.5 points per game in the tournament on 40.1% shooting from the field, but his teammates have chipped in to get this team to the Final Four, even without gaudy numbers. Darrion Trammell had 21 points against Alabama and hit the game-winning free throw against Creighton, while Lamont Butler, led all scorers with 18 against Creighton.
San Diego State may be too experienced and deep for this upstart Owls team, which makes San Diego State on the ML one of our favorite bets for this Final Four showdown.
For NCAA tournament coverage like this Final Four preview, visit amNY Sports
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