College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions for San Diego State vs. Wyoming (Monday, February 28)

College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions for San Diego State vs. Wyoming (Monday, February 28) article feature image

AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images. Pictured: Hunter Maldonado (24) and Graham Ike (33).

  • In a battle of strength on strength, where's the edge on San Diego State vs. Wyoming?
With plenty to play for, our college basketball betting analyst is taking one of these teams to cover.
  • Keep reading for Anthony Dabbundo's full preview and pick for this Mountain West showdown.

San Diego State vs. Wyoming Odds

Monday, Feb. 28
9 p.m. ET
CBS Sports Network
San Diego State Odds
-110o / -110u
Wyoming Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

San Diego State and Wyoming lost crucial games at the top of the Mountain West Conference standings on the road to Boise State and Colorado State last week. The Aztecs and Cowboys then bounced back from those defeats with comfortable home wins over the weekend to set up a critical clash on Monday.

Wyoming's title challenge is reliant on winning each of its final three games this week, starting with Monday night's home game against San Diego State. Despite being a game behind Boise State, Wyoming needs three wins and one Boise State loss to tie for the league title, and Boise State is sure to be an underdog when it visits Colorado State to conclude the regular season on Saturday.

Meanwhile, SDSU is very much on the NCAA Tournament bubble and likely needs another Quadrant I victory to secure its spot. If the Aztecs lose to the Cowboys on Monday and can't make an MWC tournament run, they're more likely than not to be left out of the field.

From a matchup perspective, this is a classic battle of strength on strength as the league's most efficient offense in conference play (Wyoming) battles one of the nation's most elite defenses (SDSU). The Aztecs defense is not only No. 1 in the MWC, but currently ranks first in KenPom's adjusted defensive efficiency. Can the Cowboys generate enough offense to cover?

San Diego State Aztecs

Predictive metrics like KenPom really like San Diego State, ranking the Aztecs 22nd in the entire country and first in the Mountain West. Haslametrics places them 27th, and that's because they defend all levels of the court at an elite rate — Haslametrics ranks the Aztecs top 25 at guarding the rim, top 10 at guarding the 3 and top five at taking away the midrange.

The two most important matchup angles to analyze when discussing San Diego State is how well you can guard isolation and how well you rebound defensively. The Aztecs don't shoot the ball efficiently on the offensive end and rely on generating multiple shots per possession to try to make up for that offensively.

They also prefer to get out in transition whenever possible because of the struggles of the offense in the halfcourt.

Wyoming has the ability to throw different looks at Matt Bradley, San Diego State's primarily scorer and shooter who lives in the midrange and in isolation actions. Wyoming also keeps teams out of transition against it because the Cowboys don't turn the ball over, play in the halfcourt on offense and take away second-chance opportunities by committing heavily to the defensive glass.

Even though the Aztecs' turnover issues will be less of a problem because the Cowboys really don't turn opponents over, the Aztecs won't be able to get a lot of second-chance possessions to make up for their shooting inefficiency. The Cowboys may have some 3-point defensive shooting regression coming, too, based on the numbers. But the Aztecs have shot the ball poorly away from home and don't take that many 3s to begin with — they're 330th in 3-point frequency.

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Wyoming Cowboys

Wyoming's offense is simple, yet efficient. It runs almost entirely through two players and is generally pretty predictable, but the Cowboys remain one of the most potent offenses in the MWC and nation.

Graham Ike and Hunter Maldonado both struggled in the road trip to Colorado State last week, where Maldonado had the worst game of his season. Both are elite in post-up situations and are a major reason the Cowboys rank seventh in the country in post-ups, per ShotQuality.

Wyoming is all but certain to make its first NCAA Tournament since 2015 and still has a real chance at the MWC title this week. The Cowboys will be going into the strength of the Aztecs defense quite a bit by playing in the halfcourt and going into the post, as SDSU is top 10 in the nation defensively in those metrics.

But if SDSU's defense does have a weakness, it's guarding the perimeter, where there could be some defensive regression coming in this game. According to SQ, the Aztecs are outside the top 100 at guarding the 3-point line based on quality of shots allowed — but teams are making very few against them.

Teams are shooting just 30% in the league against SDSU and 29.5% overall for the season. The expected numbers are solidly higher and Wyoming can use the increased focus on Maldonado and Ike in the post to get Drake Jeffries going from the outside. He's one of the more elite jump shooters in the whole country and should get plenty of open looks.

San Diego State vs. Wyoming Betting Pick

At best, you can argue these teams are about equal on paper and in the power ratings. San Diego State has enhanced its ranking in the metrics based on a lot of blowouts against really bad teams, and it is true that Wyoming has been a bit fortunate in close games overall. But based on ShotQuality record, both teams have over-performed by two games in total.

Wyoming's offense in the halfcourt is just as elite as the SDSU defense, and the Aztecs' frequent scoring droughts are always a threat to present in big games.

The Cowboys defense has some holes that can be exploited, but an Aztecs offense that is extremely iso heavy is not the one to do that. When you factor in the enhanced homecourt for the Cowboys in Laramie and elevation, I can't get to the Aztecs being 2-point road favorites here.

Even if you think the Aztecs are a marginally better team, laying two on the road implies they're five to six points better on a neutral court, which I am nowhere close to believing.

At any home underdog price, I'd back the Cowboys to stay in the MWC title race and take down SDSU at home.

Pick: Wyoming +2

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