Charleston vs San Diego State Odds & Prediction: Don’t Expect an Upset

Charleston vs San Diego State Odds & Prediction: Don’t Expect an Upset article feature image

Getty Images. Design by Matt Roembke/Action Network. Pictured from left: Matt Bradley of San Diego State and Ryan Larson of Charleston.

Charleston vs San Diego State Odds

Thursday, March 16
3:10 p.m. ET
Charleston Odds
-110o / -110u
San Diego State Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Charleston is a classic NCAA Tournament 12-seed in almost every way.

As a mid-major program, the Cougars rolled through league play, won 31 games in total and had one of the longest win streaks in the nation when they won 20 straight games.

They're sure to be a trendy first-round upset pick when they face off against a fellow mid-major in San Diego State, in Round 1 of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday.

The Aztecs were marginally underseeded when comparing their 5-seed to their underlying numbers. San Diego State won both the regular-season and conference tournament crown in the Mountain West.

However, the conference has had its struggles in the actual tournament, and the Aztecs did lose in the first round of the Big Dance in 2021 to Syracuse and 2022 to Creighton despite being a higher seed and favorite in both matchups.

This matchup is intriguing because it's an ultimate pace clash featuring the run-and-gun Charleston offense that's 29th in adjusted tempo nationally. San Diego State wants to play in the half-court and is one of the most physically imposing defenses in the entire country.

Charleston wants to shoot a ton of 3s, but SDSU is very effective at matching up on the perimeter.

Although the Cougars will be a popular upset pick in many brackets, the Aztecs caught a favorable matchup here and are undervalued to move into Round 2.

Charleston Cougars

Charleston's offense is predicated more around the perimeter than almost any other offense in the country.

The Cougars shoot 3s at the ninth-highest attempt rate in the country, but they're going to struggle to execute in the half-court against the Aztecs defense.

There's no clear area where the Cougars offense has an edge over the Aztecs on Thursday. It's not inside, where Charleston makes up for its shooting efficiency from deep by pulling in a ton of offensive rebounds. San Diego State is a good defensive rebounding team, and it applies a ton of on-ball pressure to disrupt passing lanes and offensive flow.

The Cougars will try to run as much as possible in this matchup, but San Diego State is an elite transition defense. The Aztecs are one of the best at forcing teams to play in the half-court against them. Once in the half-court, Charleston's offense will face an SDSU defense that allows the 11th-lowest rate of unguarded catch-and-shoot 3s in the entire country.

There's no glaring weakness for Pat Kelsey's team, but it also doesn't have any clear strengths to potentially exploit San Diego State's talent and physicality.

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San Diego State Aztecs

The biggest question mark for the Aztecs in this tournament is whether or not the offense will go through a prolonged scoring drought that leads to them getting knocked out.

Given how inconsistent the offense is at times, a drought is certainly going to happen at some point. San Diego State saw it happen in the first half of the MWC final against Utah State when the Aztecs went five minutes with one made field goal. Against Boise State, they didn't make a field goal in the final four minutes of an eventual defeat.

Good rim defenses can absolutely cause problems for the Aztecs. Charleston is marginally above average at guarding the rim, ranking in the 64th percentile, per Synergy.

The Cougars will allow a decent amount of shots and opportunities in the midrange, which is an area the Aztecs like to attack. If the SDSU shooters are going to get chased off the line by Charleston, they're more than comfortable taking midrange pull-up shots.

That's the key against Charleston's defense, as well as using post-up looks to dominate it inside. The Cougars defense grades out really poorly there, and the Aztecs utilize the post more than most teams the Cougars have played this season.

This version of the Aztecs defense doesn't force as many turnovers as years past, but that also makes them better on the defensive glass. In this matchup, that's a positive for SDSU.

Charleston vs San Diego State Betting Pick

Based on some underlying numbers, San Diego State is the best 5-seed facing off against the worst 12-seed.

SDSU's defense has been back to its elite self in the last month, and that will force Charleston to take a lot of difficult and contested 3s. While the Cougars pulled a lot of offensive rebounds down in the weak Colonial, they'll struggle to replicate that performance against the Aztecs' physicality and strength inside.

San Diego State has more than enough depth to match and outlast the Cougars, too, even if the game does end up being more up-and-down from a pace perspective.

As bad as the Aztecs have been at closing out games at times, 5.5 points is a bit too short for this matchup. I'd bet the Aztecs at -6 or better.

Pick: San Diego State -6 or Better

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