Maui Invitational Odds, Picks & Predictions for Arkansas vs. San Diego State
Photo by Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Nathan Mensah & Keshad Johnson (San Diego State)
Arkansas vs. San Diego State Odds
-112o / -108u
|San Diego State Odds|
-112o / -108u
While the Maui Invitational Championship game boasts two of the best offensive teams in the country, the third-place game will pit two of the top-15 defenses in the nation against each other.
Arkansas finds itself in the consolation bracket after losing to Creighton in a game that came down to the wire. The Razorbacks shot the ball well against the Bluejays, but foul trouble cost them significantly in the end.
San Diego State, on the other hand, looked to benefit from foul trouble, as three of Arizona's top four scorers had four or more fouls late in their semifinal game.
But it didn't matter who was shooting the ball for Arizona. It just couldn't seem to miss, as it hit 66.7% from the floor and 60% from beyond the arc in the second half.
The Aztecs couldn't find an answer to stopping the Wildcats.
Now tasked with slowing down a fast-paced, physical Razorbacks team, will the result be the same?
The Razorbacks have looked great in Maui against some strong competition, which is even more impressive considering they've done so without their best player.
Freshman Nick Smith Jr. is still day-to-day, but I don't expect to see him tonight for Arkansas.
Without Smith, both Anthony Black and Ricky Council IV have stepped up significantly. Against Creighton, the two combined for 50 points.
As a team, the Razorbacks' offense has been solid, but the lack of 3-point shooting becomes more detrimental each game. Arkansas is hitting just 32.2% from beyond the arc, and Council has been the only player on the squad to attempt more than 20 3s (36.4%).
Arkansas' defense has been its best quality by far. The Hogs are holding teams to just 61.2 points per game and giving up just 31 rebounds per contest.
Opposing teams have been held to just 30.6% from beyond the arc and 54.4% from the floor.
The Razorbacks also have been among the best when it comes to forcing turnovers and getting steals. They're forcing a turnover on 27.6% of possessions and coming away with a steal on 15% of those.
Arkansas might've given up 90 points to Creighton, but don't let that fool you: this team is still one of the best defenses in the country.
In their loss to Arizona, the Aztecs scored less than 72 points for the first time this season.
And much like Arkansas, this is still a great team despite losing to an opponent that's just better than them.
San Diego State racked up 11 steals and forced the Wildcats to turn the ball over 19 times.
The Aztecs' defense is holding teams to just 71.6 points per game and has been specifically great at drawing fouls — opponents average 21.4 personal fouls a game vs. San Diego State.
That could be a serious issue for the Razorbacks, who rank 301st among all Division I teams in fouls per contest (20.2).
San Diego State is known for its defense — it's been consistently among the best for what feels like over a decade now. Year in and year out it doesn't matter who is still there or who is gone, the Aztecs' defense is the Aztecs' defense.
What's impressive about this team this year is the offense. The Aztecs are averaging 78.8 points per game and are making 48.7% of their shots.
They rank top-50 in the country in shooting percentage, and while they might not have that singular 20-point per game player, they have depth on the bench and a long list of players who all shoot the ball well from anywhere on the floor.
Arkansas vs. San Diego State Betting Pick
I think fouls once again become an issue for the Razorbacks, and without Smith, I'm not sure this team has enough depth to keep up with the Aztecs.
Arkansas' defense should remain strong — as it has so far in this tournament — but 145 feels right on the number, and I'm hesitant to take the under with the high potential for free throws in this game.
Instead, I'll be backing the Aztecs on the moneyline at -130 or better.
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