Mountain West Tournament Odds: Picks for Utah State vs. Boise State, San Jose State vs. San Diego State

Mountain West Tournament Odds: Picks for Utah State vs. Boise State, San Jose State vs. San Diego State article feature image

Steve Marcus/Getty Images. Pictured: Utah State’s Dan Akin (left) and Taylor Funk (right).

Much like it has all season, the Mountain West provided more late drama than any league in the country on Thursday in the quarterfinals.

Colorado State took No. 1 seed San Diego State down to the final possession, losing by three after the Rams had three chances in the final minutes spin off the rim. San Jose State had its first-ever 20-win season clinched after an overtime upset of Nevada in the 4-5 matchup, a loss which may cost Nevada an NCAA Tournament spot.

UNLV rallied from 20 down to tie Boise State on a desperation 3 from the corner as time expired. The Rebels went on to lose in overtime to the defending MWC champions.

In the final game of the night, Utah State eliminated New Mexico with an offensive clinic to book the final spot in the MWC semifinals.

San Diego State vs. San Jose State Odds

Friday, March 10
9:30 p.m. ET
CBS Sports Network
San Diego State Odds
-110o / -110u
San Jose State Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via BetRivers. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

San Diego State is a solid 8.5-point favorite to make the final now and is probably relieved to avoid a rubber match with Nevada.

The Spartans have had quite the turnaround this season in year two under Tim Miles. SJSU went 1-18 in league play last year and is now 11-8 this season including yesterday. That turnaround earned Miles Coach of the Year honors as well.

The Spartans are just two wins away from the NCAA Tournament, but the matchup is not a good one for them on Friday night.

One potential issue is fatigue. The Spartans don't have a deep bench at all, and they had to play overtime yesterday with Nevada. San Diego State gives eight or nine players solid minutes, while SJSU is in the bottom 30 nationally in bench minutes.

There's also a natural potential letdown after a school wins its first-ever MWC Tournament game and clinches its first 20-win season since 1981.

San Jose State plays a slow-paced offensive style that prioritizes shooting from either the perimeter or the rim, which actually lends itself to a style that could pull a potential upset against the Aztecs. They're also not going to be overwhelmed on the glass at either end, as SJSU is one of the best rebounding teams in the league.

The problem is that the Aztecs defense is elite in the half-court. SDSU forces opponents to shoot from the outside, and the Spartans are just not at all a good shooting team. SJSU is the worst free-throw shooting team in the league and the second-worst 3-point shooting team.

SDSU's defense at the rim isn't as good as years past, but it still has MWC Defensive Player of the Year Nathan Mensah in the middle.

The biggest flaw for the Aztecs is trying to score in the half-court when the game gets slowed down. But against San Jose State, which is in the 22nd percentile nationally in PPP allowed in the half-court, the Aztecs should be able to score comfortably.

They're also not going to have turnover issues against an SJSU defense that's among the worst in the nation at turning teams over.

The Aztecs won the only regular-season meeting by 21, and on paper, this is a poor matchup for the Spartans. I'd bet San Diego State but only if the line falls below eight.

Verdict: San Diego State at -7.5 or Better

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Boise State vs. Utah State Odds

Friday, March 10
7 p.m. ET
Boise State Odds
-110o / -110u
Utah State Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Utah State’s offense absolutely rolled against New Mexico in the MWC quarterfinals on Thursday. Now, the Aggies have a rest and depth advantage for the semifinal on Friday night.

Boise State needed overtime to get past UNLV and now has to play a back-to-back with almost no depth. All five starters for Boise State played at least 35 minutes, and three played at least 40 minutes. The Broncos already have one of the shortest benches in the entire country, and fatigue could play a role down the stretch. Utah State also likes to run in transition, which doesn't help.

The Broncos defense does guard the perimeter well and aggressively closes out on 3-point shooters to try and take away looks for opponents. Unlike last season, though, they don’t have the elite rim protector, and that’s where this defense is more vulnerable.

When you think of the Aggies, you think of the ball-screen actions and the 3-point shooting, but they’re also elite at getting to the rim and finishing there.

These two teams just played in Logan to conclude the regular season, and Utah State scored 86 points with just seven made 3s. Boise sold out to take away the 3-point line, and Utah State instead made 25 2s and shot 69% from inside the arc.

The Broncos have also allowed just 0.92 PPP on catch-and-shoot attempts this year despite an expected 1.01 PPP allowed. They’re just slightly above average guarding the rim, per Synergy, while Utah State is in the 92nd percentile in rim scoring.

Boise crushed Utah State in the meeting in Boise, but it also shot 57% from 3 and was in a home-run spot just days after the Aggies won at Air Force.

In my view, Utah State is the better team on a neutral floor, and the market agrees.

The versatility of Ryan Odom’s offense should make scoring much easier for Utah State than Boise in this matchup. I’d bet the Aggies at -140 or better to reach the MWC final.

Pick: Utah State ML -140 or Better

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Jun 14, 2024 UTC