San Diego State vs. Syracuse Betting Odds, Pick, Prediction: Back the Aztecs In First Round of NCAA Tournament

San Diego State vs. Syracuse Betting Odds, Pick, Prediction: Back the Aztecs In First Round of NCAA Tournament article feature image

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images. Pictured: Matt Mitchell.

  • A red-hot San Diego State team looks to avoid being upset by Jim Boeheim’s Syracuse on Friday night.
  • The Aztecs’ 3-point-shooting attack will provide a big test of the Orange’s 2-3 zone, which has given Boeheim plenty of success in March.
  • Our staff breaks down the matchup and who bettors should back in this Round of 64 matchup.

San Diego State vs. Syracuse Odds

San Diego State Odds-3
Syracuse Odds+3
Moneyline-152 / +128
TimeFriday, 9:40 p.m. ET
Odds as of Thursday evening and via DraftKings.

The Mountain West champions come in after winning 14 straight games to end the season.

The Aztecs are one of the best defensive teams in the country and have given opposing offenses fits all season long, allowing only 0.89 points per possession.

San Diego State has talent all over the floor, but Matt Mitchell has been its unsung hero, averaging 15.5 points per game and locking down opponents on defense.

However, he’ll have a big task trying to shut down Buddy Boeheim, who has been on fire the past few weeks.

Syracuse barely got into the tournament after losing at the buzzer to Virginia in the ACC Tournament. Jim Boeheim’s squad has been up and down all season long but doesn’t have what I would consider a signature win.

The Orange only have one win over current KenPom top-50 teams, and it was a two-point win over North Carolina. In fact, outside of their two games against Virginia, San Diego State will be the highest-rated team they’ve seen all season long.

What will be interesting to see is how effective Syracuse’s 2-3 zone is against San Diego State’s offense. The Aztecs are an outstanding 3-point shooting team and hardly turn the ball over, so it's going to be difficult for Syracuse to shut them down.

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San Diego State Aztecs

Kyle Remillard: San Diego State hasn’t gotten the respect it deserves as it’s flown under the national radar in plain sight.

The Aztecs have won back-to-back Mountain West Championships with a 53-6 record in that span. They come into the NCAA Tournament riding a 14-game win streak thanks to their 11th-ranked defensive efficiency.

SDSU has allowed just 60.6 points per game this season, which ranks eighth in the country. It’s an elite defense that doesn’t allow anything easy at the rim and forces teams into taking contested 3-point attempts.

The Aztecs focus heavily on sprinting back on defense to not allow any transition attempts, something Syracuse looks for frequently.

They are one of the more veteran-laden teams in the tournament with five of their top six scorers being seniors.

Among them is Matt Mitchell, who averages 15.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. He’s going to be a key matchup in this game as he can expose the Syracuse zone by sitting at the foul line and making the right decision when he touches the ball.

Mitchell will have some help, as SDSU ranked first in Mountain West play in 3-point percentage, converting at 39.5%. Jordan Schakel has connected on 46.7% of his 167 3-point attempts this season, while Terrell Gomez has hit 41.7%.

San Diego State is a well-coached, experienced team that has the potential to make a run as a 6-seed.

It can attack the Syracuse 2-3 zone from multiple angles and various looks due to its depth, which makes it extremely dangerous. If the Aztecs can hit shots, as they’ve done all season, then they should be able to take care of the Orange in the first round.

Syracuse Orange

Pat McMahon: The Orange were one of the major winners of Selection Sunday. Not only did they find themselves in the field, but they were also fortunate to avoid the First Four.

Whether or not the Orange’s resume warranted an at-large bid is a different story, but the fact is they are here and have a squad capable of doing some damage.

This Syracuse team has a different look than in recent years. The Orange are typically built around their defense, but this iteration is known for offense. Syracuse ranks 22nd in adjusted offensive efficiency, per KenPom.

Uncharacteristic of a typical Jim Boeheim team, this year’s Orange rely heavily on the 3-point shot. They’re a bit inconsistent from deep, but when they catch fire the Orange are extremely tough to beat.

Leading scorer Buddy Boeheim (17.1 points per game) struggled early in the season but has really come on strong down the stretch. Over the last seven games, Boeheim is averaging more than 23 points per game on 46.3% shooting from beyond the arc.

Alan Griffin and Joseph Girard III also love to let it fly from 3. Griffin, the Illinois transfer, has been a huge boost for the Orange offense this season. He’s averaging 14.7 points per game and is shooting the deep ball at a 37.2% clip. Girard has struggled the most with consistency and is at just 31.8% from 3 on the season.

It’s not just the guards that can give the Orange offense, as forwards Quincy Guerrier and Marek Dolezaj have been key contributors all season.

Guerrier (14.4 ppg) is the most talented player on the team and is often the most difficult matchup for opposing teams. He has NBA-level athleticism, and is strong enough to score in the paint but is also really good at taking defenders off the dribble.

Dolezaj doesn’t get a lot of shine for his play on the offensive end, but he’s an incredibly gifted passer for a big and can score when needed.

The defense is a different story, as the Orange zone has struggled all season, ranking just 90th in adjusted defensive efficiency. The shooting defense is actually pretty strong across the board, but the problem is the Orange are a dreadful defensive rebounding team.

Syracuse has a defensive rebounding rate of just 68.9%, which ranks 321st in the nation, per TeamRankings. Rebounding out of a zone is inherently difficult, and to make matters worse the Orange don’t have a true starting center after Bourama Sidibe went down with a knee injury in the first game of the season.

The 2-3 zone could be beneficial in this tournament, as teams outside of the ACC aren’t very familiar with how to attack it. Opposing offenses really struggled against the Orange when they made deep runs as double-digit seeds in both 2016 and 2018.

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Matchup & Betting Analysis

BJ Cunningham: It’s going to be really difficult for Syracuse to shut down San Diego State’s offense.

The Aztecs should shoot right over the top of the zone while also possessing talented ball handlers who should be able to penetrate the zone at will.

Syracuse was the worst defensive-rebounding team in the ACC, so San Diego State’s Nathan Mensah should have a field day on the offensive glass.

SDSU is also one of the most experienced teams in the tournament. Per KenPom, the Aztecs rank 16th in the country in minutes continuity, so at this point, the Aztecs are a well-oiled machine.

For Syracuse to win this game, Buddy Boehiem needs to get hot because breaking down San Diego State’s defense is an incredibly difficult task.

Teams can’t score inside because the Aztecs allow only 44.5% from 2-point range. San Diego State is also top-25 in turnover rate and steal rate, so if Syracuse can’t hold onto the ball, it’s going to have no shot in this game.

A common theme in San Diego State’s four losses this season was 3-point defense. In three of their four losses, the Aztecs’ opponents shot over 34% from deep, so that is Syracuse’s best bet offensively.

I think San Diego State is too experienced and efficient on defense for Syracuse in this game. The Aztecs’ offensive strengths matchup well with Syracuse’s weaknesses in the 2-3 zone, so San Diego State should be able to roll in this game.

I have San Diego State projected as a -4.18 favorite, so I think there’s some value on it at -3 or better.

Pick: San Diego State -3 or better.

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