Improbable Mid-Majors Meet in Final Four
Saturday’s Final Four games are some of the wackiest matchups we have seen in years. Three teams are playing in their first Final Four, which has not happened since 1970. Plus, this is the first NCAA Tournament with no No. 1, 2 or 3 seed playing on the final weekend.
No. 9 Florida Atlantic (35-3) against No. 5 San Diego State (31-6) is the clash no March Madness picks could have predicted. This is the first time two mid-majors made the Final Four since 2011. The Aztecs have the best-remaining defense while the Owls play a modern style of basketball with excellent guard play and 3-point shooting. Don’t overlook this matchup. Either team could be an excellent online gambling choice to win the national championship.
Florida Atlantic Leans on Backcourt
The Owls are the Cinderella of the 2023 tournament. Before this wild run, FAU had yet to win a game in the NCAA Tournament. Now, they have a chance to play for all of the marbles. The sportsbook has Florida Atlantic as the last choice to win the tournament (+600).
Ahead of Saturday’s showdown, the Owls are riding an 11-game winning streak while going 8-3 against the spread (ATS). They are also 3-0 ATS as underdogs in March Madness. Florida Atlantic has shown its versatility in the postseason, winning in a variety of ways. It took No. 4 Tennessee down 62-55 in a defensive battle. Then, the Owls won a back-and-forth scoring affair against No. 3 Kansas State (79-76).
Everything goes back to FAU’s backcourt and 3-point shooting. It has made at least eight 3-pointers in the last four games. However, San Diego State ranks second in opponent 3-point percentage. The Owls’ guards will have their toughest challenge yet.
Guard Johnell Davis (13.9 points) could be the X-factor. His ability to create off of the bounce could lead to open looks for Florida Atlantic. Davis is averaging 17.3 points in the NCAA Tournament. College basketball lines have his projected scoring total at 13½. The over is an intriguing bet.
From 0 stars to March Madness hero.💯
Today, Johnell Davis plays in Madison Square Garden with a chance to make the Final Four.
In the NCAAT- 18.7PPG, 7.7REB, 1.7STL@KOBNelly pic.twitter.com/6f7zhRKhbh
— GREENLIGHT MEDIA (@atlgreenlight) March 25, 2023
San Diego State Shutting Down 3-Point Attacks
After more than 20 years of building the program, San Diego State finally broke through with its first Final Four appearance. The Aztecs have a great chance of cutting down the cuts on Monday with +400 odds to win NCAA tournament, per NCAA basketball odds.
SDSU is on an eight-game winning streak while going 7-1 ATS. The defense has been fantastic, holding opponents to 34.1% shooting and 17% on 3-pointers in the tournament. This level of play is not that surprising, either. The Aztecs rank fourth in Kenpom’s defensive efficiency.
The perimeter defense has been ridiculous. San Diego State has faced some of the nation’s top shooting squads, like Alabama and Creighton. Every 3-point attack has been completely erased. For example, the Crimson Tide ranked ninth in 3-pointers made per game, and they shot 3 of 27 from deep against the Aztecs.
Florida Atlantic is another team who leans on the three, ranking 12th in made 3-pointers per game. However, the Owls’ guards are difficult to stay in front of as well. SDSU guards Matt Bradley, Darrion Trammell and Lamont Butler must rise to the occasion. Fortunately, the Aztecs boast incredible experience with seven seniors in their nine-man rotation. Plus, Trammell and Butler have been exceptional.
“It’s a blessing to be here. … I can’t even put this into words.”
—@Aztec_MBB Darrion Trammell pic.twitter.com/g5coVgRM89
— CBS Sports College Basketball 🏀 (@CBSSportsCBB) March 26, 2023
San Diego State vs Florida Atlantic Game Injuries
San Diego State vs Florida Atlantic Head-to-Head
These programs met twice in the early 2000s. San Diego State went 2-0 with an average scoring margin of 24.5 points.
San Diego State vs Florida Atlantic Game Information
- Game: San Diego State (31-6) vs Florida Atlantic (35-3)
- Location: NRG Stadium, Houston, TX
- Day/Time: Saturday, April 1, 6:09 p.m. ET
- Florida Atlantic vs San Diego State Live stream: TBS.com
San Diego State vs Florida Atlantic Betting Lines
San Diego State vs Florida Atlantic Picks and Prediction
We stress guard play over and over in the NCAA Tournament. It leads to wins more times than not. Strong defenses typically win as well. San Diego State has both. The Aztecs have wiped out every 3-point attack no matter the opponent. There’s little reason to think that will change against Florida Atlantic.
The Owls will likely look to push the pace in transition. If SDSU keeps that under wraps, this could be a comfortable win. Butler comes off an 18-point performance, and Trammell is college basketball odds’ third choice to win the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player (+1200). The Aztecs’ guards can go blow for blow with Florida Atlantic’s exceptional backcourt. San Diego State will cover the 2½-point spread thanks to its elite defense.
San Diego State is listed at -150 in our Las Vegas college basketball lines. This means that if you wager $100 on the Aztecs, you have a chance to win $67. Florida Atlantic is +130, offering a chance to win $130 on a $100 wager.
The implied probability attached to the betting lines gives San Diego State a 60.00% chance to win, with the Owls at 43.48%.