Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#803 Nevada 135.5 vs.
#804 San Diego State -12.5
Saturday, January 18, 2020 at 8:00pm EST
Written by Benjamin Hayes



#803 University of Nevada Reno
#804 San Diego State University


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Nevada takes on undefeated San Diego State on Saturday night at 8pmET in Mountain West Conference action. San Diego State is 18-0, ranked 12th according to KenPom, third in the Net Rankings and seventh in the latest AP Poll. Nevada is 4-2 in the MWC, while the Aztecs are 7-0.

Last season, San Diego State upset Nevada in the MWC semifinals after splitting in the regular season.

A down year

Most teams would love a down year to be 11-7 overall and 4-2 in the MVW. But that's what happened to Nevada, who lost five starters from last season's team and is now coached by Steve Alford in his first season. The Wolf Pack have had their troubles on the road this season, going 2-5, but they are 9-2 at home.

On Tuesday, the Wolf Pack needed a layup by junior Jalen Harris with under 10 seconds left to edge Wyoming 68-67 at home. That was their 15th straight Mountain West win at home and 28th of their last 30th home conference win. Harris led Nevada with 20 points, while Jazz Johnson added 16 points. The Wolf Pack shot just 42% from the field and 6-of-25 from beyond the arc. They outrebounded the Cowboys by eight and held them to 43% shooting from the field.

According to KenPom, Nevada is ranked 101st overall, 77th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 133rd in adjusted defensive efficiency. On defense, the Wolf Pack are really strong against the three-point shot (26.6%) and rank seventh in the nation. They average 74.9 points per game on 44% shooting (38.1% 3pt). Harris lead the squad with 18.4 points per game and 6.2 rebounds, while Johnson (5-10, 180) pours in 17.1 points on 42.3% from the field and 43.4% from beyond the arc.

Few close games

San Diego State is coming off a 64-55 road win over Fresno State on Tuesday. In their 18 wins, they have just one really close game and that took place on Dec. 8 when they eeked out a 59-57 home win over San Jose State as a 29-point favorite. They also beat BYU by just five, 76-71, but that was on the road on Nov. 9.

They haven't played a great schedule, but did crush Utah by 28, Iowa by 10 and Creighton by 31 on neutral sites. The Aztecs are the only undefeated teams remaining in Division I college basketball.

“Well, they tell me we’re the last man standing so far, so that's a good thing,” SDSU coach Brian Dutcher said Thursday to the Associated Press. “I did stay up and watch the end of Alabama and Auburn, because like anything else, at some level, I’m a college basketball fan.

“When Auburn went down, we started getting the pictures of ‘The Map.’ San Diego State was the entire map, so it was pretty cool.”

Dutcher has won despite missing 6-10, 220-pound forward Nathan Mensah, who averages 6.9 points and 6.8 rebounds. He's dealing with an illness and may not return this season.

On Tuesday, the Aztecs took care of business on the road, defeating Fresno State 64-55. Malachi Flynn led SDSU with 22 points, while Yanni Wetzell (11.9ppg, 5.9rpg) added 17 points and six boards.

This is a balanced squad that ranks 25th in adjusted efficiency offense and 16th in adjusted efficiency defense. They rank 5th in points per game allowed (56.9), eighth in field goal percentage defense (36.9%), and 6th in three-point defense (26.6%). On offense, they shoot 37.4% from beyond the arc and 46.9% from the field, while outrebounding teams by 4.5 per game.

Former Washington State guard Flynn leads the Aztecs with 16.6 points per game and 4.8 assists.

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This is about covering, not winning games. San Diego State may end the season undefeated in the MWC, but Nevada is not an easy out. They struggled to beat Wyoming on Tuesday and you wonder if they were looking ahead to this game. San Diego State has a target on their back now and they will see each team's best effort. Everybody wants to be the first to upset San Diego State and get some national publicity for that. Alford has been around this game for over 35 years as a player and coach so he understands what it's like from both ends. He'll have his team prepared to battle.

Prediction: Nevada

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San Diego State holds teams to under 55 points per game. That's crazy and they had their average the other night against Fresno State. At home, they are just as tough, holding opponents to 56.8 points, while Nevada is averaging just 70.1 points on the road. They are also shooting nearly 40% from beyond the arc, but the Aztecs hold teams to just 28% from three-point range at home. Even with a cover, Nevada will struggle to score over 60 points.

Prediction: Under

Written By Benjamin Hayes

Ben has been a sports writer for over 30 years, dabbling in college and pro basketball, college and pro football, baseball, college lacrosse, minor league baseball and even college gymnastics. He's also been involved in the gaming industry for over 25 years and has been looking to beat the books since he was 13!