College Basketball Odds, Pick & Preview for San Diego State vs. Boise State (Tuesday, February 22)
Loren Orr/Getty Images. Pictured: Abu Kigab
- The total is a miniscule 119 for tonight's matchup between San Diego State and Boise State.
- Two of the best defenses in college basketball will be on display, so it's easy to see why.
- Jim Root explores this matchup and explains why points will be hard to come by once again tonight.
San Diego State vs. Boise State Odds
|San Diego State Odds|
-110o / -110u
|Boise State Odds|
-110o / -110u
Rematch season is upon us throughout college basketball, but I’m not sure anyone needs to see a second meeting between these two teams.
They first met back on January 22, and let me tell you: it was not pretty. Boise State won on the road, 42-37, in a game of defensive dominance. Both teams had stretches of more than seven minutes in the second half without a field goal (the Aztecs went nearly 10 minutes without one).
We should note a few caveats about that gruesome clash, however. It was San Diego State’s first game following a two-week COVID pause, likely disrupting an already anemic offense. And for Boise State, it was the fifth game in 10 days following the Broncos’ own two-week COVID pause.
Both teams were understandably flat (gassed, even), leading to such a low-scoring defensive duel. With more rest and the Mountain West title on the line, this meeting projects to be livelier.
That second half against the Broncos was a microcosm of the Aztecs’ year. The entire season has been one long offensive drought, struggling to score enough to help out an elite defense.
And it really is elite. Per KenPom’s Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, San Diego State has the best defense in the entire country. Coach Brian Dutcher has been a part of some tremendous squads in San Diego, but this might be the best defensive unit in school history.
Nathan Mensah is the anchor; a shot-swatting rim menace who also dominates the glass. Perimeter menaces like Lamont Butler and Trey Pulliam orbit around him in Dutcher’s pack line scheme, but Mensah is the heart and soul.
Offensively, it’s basically the Matt Bradley Show with very few side acts. The Cal transfer has been as advertised, but when he isn’t hitting threes or getting to the charity stripe, Dutcher has few alternatives. Against strong defensive teams — like, say, Boise State — those issues become exacerbated.
Like SDSU, Boise State thrives via a physical, defensive identity. The Broncos are not far behind the Aztecs with an AdjDE ranking of 11th, and their elite defensive rebounding consistently ends possessions after just one shot.
The Broncos are also huge. Lanky 6-foot-2 guard Marcus Shaver is the only player below 6-foot-5 who sees minutes. Emmanuel Akot (6-8) is the nominal point guard, and fellow Pac-12 import Abu Kigab (6-7) adds even more athleticism.
Some of the offensive struggles derive from a roster construction conundrum. Boise State has a bevy of slashers who can get to the free throw line, but the Broncos are one of the worst free throw shooting teams in the country. Mladen Armus (40.5%) is the worst offender, but Akot (57.4%) and Kigab (67.6%) could stand to improve, as well.
San Diego State vs. Boise State Betting Pick
This one certainly cannot be as ugly as the first meeting, but given the way both teams are structured, it’s still hard to envision many points.
Boise State excels scoring at the rim, but SDSU’s Mensah can erase that area. On the other side, Boise has multiple rangy wings to throw at Bradley. That cuts off the head of the Aztecs’ offensive snake.
There’s almost no risk of this becoming an up-tempo game, either, which eases peace of mind in taking the under. Considering the difficult route to points on either end, I’ll bite the bullet and bank on another ugly clash.