MY San Diego State Aztecs have made it to the Final Four. The Owls of Florida Atlantic await the Aztecs, who will both compete in their first Final Four on Saturday. Both teams have defied most pre-tournament expectations and find themselves in the midst of the best tourney runs in their respective histories.
The Aztecs receive another test for their elite defense. So far, every tournament opponent the Aztecs have faced is in the top 70 in three-point attempt percentage. Florida Atlantic is the same, coming in at 35th. FAU must do what Charleston, Furman, Alabama, and Creighton could not. Make threes.
Time: 6:09 EST
Odds: SDSU -2.5, 131.5
San Diego State Wins If…
Matt Bradley makes shots. SDSU beat number one overall seed Alabama and an elite Creighton team getting a combined 8 points from Bradley. For most of his Aztec career, Bradley has struggled with taller defenders. There is no one for FAU to throw at Bradley like Brandon Miller or Arthur Kaluma, so expect a big game for Matt Bradley. FAU’s defensive philosophy funnels the ball to the mid-range. His gravity on the court is apparent, even when he is not making shots. He opens up space for Lamont Butler and Darion Trammell to operate. There is little doubt that the defense will show up, but the offense will need to make shots this weekend if the Aztecs want to immortalize themselves in college basketball history.
Florida Atlantic Wins If…
The guards survive the ball pressure. Florida Atlantic’s offense thrives due to its interchangeability. They have several guards comfortable creating offense with the ball in their hands. In addition, they have shown the ability to survive against physical perimeter defense, especially Tennessee. Despite not having big guards, the Aztecs cover so much ground in the half-court. The Aztecs run one of the best drop defenses in the country, especially with Nathan Mensah playing as well as he is. Florida Atlantic must maintain their spacing to create open looks, which is no small task against a defense like the Aztecs.
Players to Watch
Matt Bradley, G
Florida Atlantic will not throw anyone taller than 6’4” at Bradley, so I expect a high-scoring night from the all-Mountain West guard. In addition, Bradley will have a ton of mid-range looks available to him all night.
Johnell Davis, G
Johnell Davis is live for a triple-double in this game. Davis is an elite rebounding guard and the Owls’ leading scorer. Center Vladislav Goldin expects to command most of the rebounding attention. But, like Mark Sears and Baylor Scheierman, expect Davis to be active on the offensive glass.
SDSU rides their defense to another tournament win. Playing in a football stadium will benefit the team that struggles to shoot. 68-62 Aztecs.
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