Alabama vs. San Diego State pick, odds
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If there was any question about Alabama deserving the No. 1 overall seed entering the NCAA Tournament, those have been answered by two dominant performances from the current title favorites en route to the Sweet 16.
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Unsurprisingly, the Crimson Tide are dealing as sizable favorites to advance to the Elite Eight, but they’ll face a tall task against an underrated San Diego State team built in a way that could give Alabama trouble in this spot.
Here’s how we’re betting Friday’s contest, which tips off at 6:30 p.m. ET on TBS.
Alabama vs. San Diego State pick
- San Diego State +7.5 (-110 BetMGM)
Alabama vs. San Diego State prediction and analysis
First, let’s make something very clear: Alabama is the best team in this tournament, and it’ll take an inspired effort in an ideal matchup to beat this team before the final.
Entering the Sweet 16, the Crimson Tide rank second in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency margin (+28.07) and boast the nation’s third-best scoring margin (+13.1) behind only Houston and Gonzaga.
Neither of those teams played in a major conference like Alabama, which lost just five games all year despite facing the 10th-toughest schedule in the country.
We’ve seen that dominance translate to the tournament: the Crimson Tide won their first two matchups by 20-plus points, even with superstar scorer Brandon Miller combining for just 19 points across those two contests.
All of that said, this is a dangerous matchup against San Diego State, which has the type of tenacious defense and methodical tempo to frustrate Nate Oats’ group.
The Aztecs are one of the most unheralded teams in this tournament, ranking 14th in adjusted efficiency after demolishing Furman in the second round.
That came after an impressive first-round win over Charleston that saw SDSU flex its defensive might in the final minutes.
That’s really the key to this entire team: a relentless commitment to defense on every possession with high-level athletes at just about every spot.
That’s something Alabama hasn’t seen since its loss to Tennessee in February – and, dating back to November, a 15-point loss to UConn.
Unsurprisingly, the Aztecs rank fifth in defensive efficiency and fourth in opponent 3-point percentage (28.7%), though teams are still attempting 40.5% of their shots from deep.
It’s a simple but effective approach from Brian Dutcher’s group: contest every shot and coax opponents to shoot themselves out of it.
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So far, that’s worked to near perfection: each of SDSU’s last five opponents have shot worse than 30% from three, with the last three each firing at least 24 attempts from long range.
All three posted their worst offensive efficiency of the season.
Fittingly, the Crimson Tide attempt 47.5% of their shots from deep – eighth-most in the country and the most of any team in the tournament – but they’re connecting on just 34.1% of those shots.
Those numbers are almost identical to what we saw from Charleston and Furman, two high-volume and low-efficiency shooting teams that met their end against this tenacious Aztecs defense.
That’s to say nothing of the tournament-wide shooting woes that we’ve seen, which also favors San Diego State in this spot.
If the Aztecs can disrupt Alabama’s breakneck pace on Friday and force a high volume of contested jumpers, they have enough of a physical advantage inside to keep this one close – or even pull off the massive upset.
Alabama vs. San Diego State odds (via BetMGM)
- Alabama -7.5 (-110), moneyline -350
- San Diego State +7.5 (-110), moneyline +280
- O/U 137.5 (-110)