#763 University of San Diego Torerosvs.#764 San Diego State University Aztecs
Written by Chris Kubala
NCAAB: Friday, November 11, 2016, Viejas Arena, San Diego, California, 11 pm ET
Line: San Diego State -22; Over/Under: 127
In a matchup that would entice former Anchorman Ron Burgundy, it’s a battle of programs from the Silicon City on the hardwood. The San Diego Toreros open up their slate across town as the road team against the San Diego State Aztecs Friday night. San Diego had lost nine straight in the series and 12 of the previous 13 before stunning the Aztecs, 53-48, in the last meeting on December 6, 2015. In the last meeting here, San Diego State took a 57-48 win on December 4, 2014.
San Diego had major issues last season finding the basket and that was a major reason their season was a bust. The Toreros finished the year 9-21 overall and in the cellar of the West Coast Conference with a 4-14 mark. San Diego had all kinds of problems putting points on the board as they are 347th in the nation with an average of 60.7 points per game. The Toreros shot a paltry 39 percent from the floor (343rd) as a team. San Diego is connecting on 6.4 three point field goals per game but they hit on only 28.5 percent (346th) from beyond the arc as a team. Duda Sanadze was the only player scoring in double figures for San Diego with 12.8 points per game last season. The bad news is, he graduated, leaving another void in the Toreros offensive game.
The Toreros were good on the defensive end as they are 105th in the nation by giving up 69.1 points per contest. Opposing teams hit 44.5 percent from the floor against the Toreros. San Diego allowed an average of 5.9 three pointers per game and saw their opponents hit 36.1 percent from beyond the arc. Vasa Pusica is the team’s leading returning scorer with an 8.3 point per game average. Pressure will be on him, Olin Carter III (7.3 points) and Brett Bailey (6.9 points, 4.8 rebounds) to try and cobble together some sort of offensive attack.
San Diego State turned in a blistering performance in the regular season as they were 28-10 overall and 16-2 in the Mountain West Conference. The Aztecs won the regular season title but were upended in the conference tournament. That loss cost them a NCAA Tournament bid and sent them instead to the NIT. San Diego State reached the NIT semifinals last season, where they fell 65-46 to George Washington. The Aztecs finished 273rd in the nation in scoring as they averaged just 68.6 points per game. San Diego State struggled shooting the ball as they hit 42.1 percent (268th in the nation) from the field. The Aztecs averaged 5.8 threes per game but shoot only 32.3 percent (283rd) from beyond the arc. Jeremy Hemsley is one of two returning players for San Diego State to average in double figures last season.
The Aztecs were the nation’s 3rd best scoring defense as they allowed 60.6 points per game. Opposing teams were held to 37.3 percent from the field, which led the nation. The Aztecs hold their opponents to 30 percent from three point range (7th in the country) while allowing six threes per game. The Aztecs rejected 5.45 shots per game, which was 4th in the country. Zylan Cheatham and Trey Kell (team high 12.6 points, 3.7 boards) were two of the top four scorers from last season’s team. Dakarai Allen and Malik Pope are key returnees for coach Steve Fisher and his rotation as well.
San Diego State
This one has the potential to be ugly, not in the fashion of being blowout city but in the facet that neither team scores a ton. San Diego State is clearly the better team in this contest but the fact remains that they’ve won by 20 points or more just once in the last 10 meetings. That doesn’t lead to an overwhelming vote of confidence with such a hefty line. Sure, the Aztecs could blow the doors off a San Diego team that needs to find some weapons. Until San Diego State proves it can score points regularly though, I’d steer clear of giving this many points. If you’re playing straight up, San Diego State gets the nod. If you’re playing the line, take the points and run.
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Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. He keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college, the NHL, the NBA and college basketball and MLB.