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March Madness Betting: Unlikely Matchup in South Region Final

No. 5 San Diego State and No. 6 Creighton Eye Final Four Spot

On Selection Sunday, one of the potential matchups that jumped off the television screen was the Alabama-Arizona South Regional final.h

However, neither the Crimson Tide nor Wildcats will be the ones vying for a spot in the Final Four as will the fifth-seeded San Diego State, fresh off an upset of Alabama when listed by the NCAA basketball odds as a 6½-point underdog, and Creighton going head-to-head.

Micah Parrish #3 of the San Diego State Aztecs celebrates - Rob Carr/Getty Images/AFP
Micah Parrish #3 of the San Diego State Aztecs celebrates - Rob Carr/Getty Images/AFP

According to the odds to win March Madness, Creighton is priced at +650 in national championship odds with San Diego State coming in at +900.

The NCAA basketball picks list Creighton as the 1½-point favorite for Sunday’s 2:20 p.m. ET game that will air on CBS.

It is all about individual matchups at this point so in the name of helping those making NCAA basketball predictions, here is a position-by-position breakdown.

Center – Creighton’s Ryan Kalkbrenner vs San Diego State’s Nathan Mensah

The 7-foot-1 Kalkbrenner is almost automatic around the rim as he is shooting 67% from the field in the NCAA tournament. He will occasionally drift to the perimeter, however his best work is done in the paint. He is also a top-notch shooter from the line and he is averaging 21 points and 6.3 rebounds in the three NCAA tournament games.

The 6-foot-10 Mensah is not featured prominently in the San Diego State offense with eight field goal attempts in the three NCAA tournament games. His role will be to make life difficult for Kalkbrenner.

EDGE: Creighton

Forwards – Creighton’s Arthur Kaluma and Baylor Scheierman vs San Diego State’s Keshad Johnson and Matt Bradley

Scheierman is a 6-foot-7 senior who stayed home to play in his home state. After a quiet first couple of games offensively, he was 8 of 11 from the field and 5 of 7 on 3-pointers as he finished with 21 points in the win over Princeton. He is pulling down seven rebounds and adding 3.3 assists in the tournament.

It is easy to overlook Kaluma as he doesn’t always look for his own offense. His 10.3 points and 7.3 rebounds have more than a little to do with Creighton still being in contention for a national title.

Johnson had eight points and six rebounds in the Alabama win and the Aztecs will sign up for similar production on Sunday.

Bradley plays bigger than his 6-foot-4 frame. He is the go-to player for the Aztecs. He was pretty quiet with six points and one rebound in the Sweet 16 game. That can’t happen again.

Edge: Even

Guards – Creighton’s Ryan Nembhard and Trey Alexander vs San Diego State’s Darrion Trammell and Lamont Butler

Nembhard and Alexander are a pair of sophomores who are playing like upperclassmen.

Nembhard was more of a distributor in the win over No. 15 seed Princeton in the regional final with eight assists to go with nine points. The lone Canadian on the Creighton roster, Nembhard had 40 points in the first two tournament games when he was 12 for 12 from the foul line and drained four 3-pointers in the win over Baylor.

Alexander also thrived at the free throw line as he was 10 for 10 in the last two tournament games when he averaged 17 points per game. When he is scoring, this is a team that can beat anybody.

Trammell stepped up in a major way with Bradley being held in check by the athletic Alabama perimeter defenses. He matched his season-high with 21 points on 9 of 16 shooting. He’ll need to be making shots in this matchup.

Butler was huge in the second round win over Furman with 12 points, six rebounds and six assists. He has 15 assists and five turnovers in the three tournament games.

Edge: Creighton

San Diego State didn’t have many individual advantages in the eyes of those who bet online when facing Alabama so don’t discount the Aztecs even if Creighton has the more productive starting lineup.

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