San Diego State
These teams took no part in any of the upsets that happened on the first Four days. Arizona is one of the title favorites and that’s exactly what they have looked like in their first two Games. It hasn’t been quite as easy for San Diego State, but they made it. The Wildcats are healthy -6.5 point favorites.
The unfortunate thing for Arizona is that San Diego State is just 100 miles away from where this Game is being played in Anaheim. These teams played once this year already at SDSU, but the Wildcats led for most of the way and won 69-60. While they did have Brandon Ashley in that Game, he wasn’t the main threat as Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson combined for 39 points. Arizona had five players in foul trouble in that Game which can’t happen here. The interesting part was that JJ O’Brien dropped 19 points in that first matchup, his highest total of the season. Even though ‘Zona has tons of height, O’Brien was able to be a factor. It’s hard to see him putting up that many points again.
The Aztecs have been run by two players so far in the Tournament, MWC player of the year Xavier Thames and Dwayne Polee II off the bench. The two went for 45 points in the last Game and are the only two to have scored more than 10 points for SDSU. That’s not exactly a good thing, but if it’s working, why try and fix it? Polee didn’t play in the first Game between these teams so that will be something to look at.
Arizona has been dominant in almost every phase of their two Games using a balanced attack to get the job done. They are short on depth with only six regular players, but all of them can be consistent scorers.
SDSU actually has the size advantage in this one, which is uncommonfor Arizona, but that’s what happens when you lose Brandon Ashley.
The Aztecs have one of the best defenses in the country and while their frontcOurt doesn’t Scoremuch, they defend incredibly well. Aaron Gordon and Kaleb Tarczewski will have a tough task down low with O’Brien, Josh Davis and Skylar Spencer. SDSU may try and go down low early in the Game while Gabe York is in because he’s going to have a huge problem guarding one of those guys. Of course Arizona still has Rondae Hollis-Jefferson off the bench, who could be the difference maker. The two freshmen, Gordon and Hollis-Jefferson have been awesome so far in the first two Tourney Games.
The backcOurt will be fun to watch with Johnson and T.J. McConnell going against Thames and whoever SDSU tries to guard them with, probably Winston Shepard and Polee. The Aztecs could have some problems on the defensive end against the guards because of their size. That means Thames will probably be on Johnson, but a taller guy like Shepard or Polee will be on McConnell, which isn’t great. Although on the other end, the Aztecs have a huge advantage.
The Aztecs live by their defense and that’s how they can win this Game. If they can stop the Wildcats from getting good looks and hang around on the offensive end with maybe a little help from their role players, there will definitely be an upset possibility.