San Diego State vs. Utah State Odds & Pick: Aztecs’ Matt Mitchell Ruled Out, Value on Aggies
Justin Fine/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: San Diego State’s Matt Mitchell.
- San Diego State star Matt Mitchell left Thursday's game against Utah State with an apparent knee injury.
- Will he be able to play on Saturday when these two Mountain West teams meet again?
- BJ Cunningham explains how to bet this game based on Mitchell's status.
Editors Note: San Diego State forward Matt Mitchell has officially been ruled out of Saturday’s game against Utah State.
Just in: Matt Mitchell will miss today’s game after being diagnosed with a hyperextended right knee and a bone bruise. The timetable for his return is roughly two weeks. pic.twitter.com/tqkshpsX8C
— Jon Schaeffer (@jonschaeffer) January 16, 2021
San Diego State vs. Utah State Odds
Utah State goes for its eighth straight Mountain West conference win and a sweep of San Diego State on Saturday at home.
San Diego State struggled mightily on the offensive end of the floor Thursday night in Logan, putting up a measly 45 points. It was not able to get anything going from anywhere on the floor, as it managed only 0.70 points per possession.
The Aztecs were projected to win the Mountain West this season, but getting swept by Utah State would make it difficult for San Diego State to make that projection come true.
Utah State’s defense certainly showed up on Thursday, showing why it leads the Mountain West in almost every metric. However, the offense wasn’t up to par, as Utah State was only able to score 57 points and 0.89 points per possession. The Aggies will need to play much better if they are going to beat this San Diego State team for a second time.
When San Diego State has the ball
The Aztecs slowed down the tempo against Utah State, as there were only 64.2 possessions for them on offense, which is below their season average. However, that was not the answer for Utah State’s swarming defense.
Picking up the pace will also not be the answer to their problems on offense, because the Aztecs are 316th in the country in effective field goal percentage in transition, per Hoop-Math. Not to mention, Utah State is 46th in effective field goal percentage allowed in transition, so San Diego State is going to have to be much better in its half-court sets.
San Diego State usually attempts a ton of 3-point shots and normally shoots them around 37%, but the Aggies were able to keep them in check and hold them to 24% with only five made 3-pointers.
Plain and simple, if the Aztecs want to avoid the upset, they have to shoot much better from deep and execute more efficiently in the half-court.
The biggest question heading into Thursday’s game with Utah State was its defense. It had held the cupcakes of the Mountain West to 0.71 points per possession, but San Diego State was supposed to be a different animal.
The Aggies answered the bell by forcing San Diego State into a ton of difficult shot opportunities and holding the Aztecs to 0.70 points per possession, so this defense is for real.
Can they hold San Diego State in check for the second time on Saturday?
When Utah State has the ball
While the Aggies deserve all of the praise on defense, their offense was actually quite terrible on Thursday. Big man Neemias Queta used his size advantage to shoot 7-for-11 from the field while grabbing 16 rebounds. He is a clear mismatch for San Diego State, and the Utah State will need to continue to go him on Saturday.
Outside of Queta, it was a struggle for Utah State. The rest of their team only shot only 31% from the field and committed 18 turnovers, so the supporting cast will need to play much better.
The Aggies also shot only two free throws the entire game. They have one of the lowest free throw rates in the Mountain West, so they will need to get to the free-throw line much more often if they are going to sweep the Aztecs.
San Diego State’s strategy during the game was interesting because there were times the Aztecs doubled Queta and other times they left Nathan Mensah alone on him.
Either way, if they are going to win the second time around, they are going to have to double Queta on almost every post entry. Utah State was also only able to shoot 46.7% from 2-point range on Thursday. So, if San Diego State turns up the intensity on Queta a little more and forces the rest of Utah State to beat them, they should be able to keep the Aggies offense in check again.
Betting Analysis & Pick
The key in this matchup is going to be the status of San Diego State guard Matt Mitchell. He left at the end of Thursday’s game with an apparent knee injury.
SDSU updates: Matt Mitchell had an MRI this am and is awaiting the results. He's at practice in shorts and a jersey, walking around without a limp and passively rebounding balls in drills. Adam Seiko is not practicing after having an emergency tooth extraction this am.
— Mark Zeigler (@sdutzeigler) January 15, 2021
If Mitchell is unable to go on Saturday, it’s going to make life very difficult for the Aztecs, as he’s their leading scorer at 15.3 points per game.
If Mitchell is out, I have the Aggies projected as 4.46-point favorites, so I think there’s a little bit of value on them at -3.5. However, if Mitchell plays, I don’t think there’s any value on this game.
Pick: Utah State -3.5 (If Matt Mitchell is out).