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San Diego State, Saint Mary’s to Collide

Teams to Square Off at Neutral Site in Jerry Colangelo Classic

It wasn’t much of a game when the San Diego State Aztecs traveled to Saint Mary’s a year ago in the first mee\ting between the programs in a decade. The visiting Aztecs were listed by the college basketball spreads as three-point favorites but returned home with a dominating 74-49 win over the Gaels.

This time the teams will be meeting in Phoenix in the Jerry Colangelo Classic and that could be good news for San Diego State, which has the ninth-best non-conference record in neutral-site games since the start of the 2009-10 season.

Laid-back Californians? Not when San Diego State and Saint Mary’s hit the court
Nic Antaya/Getty Images/AFP

San Diego State (+225) is just behind Colorado State (+130) and not far ahead of Utah State (+550) in the current Mountain West championship odds.

Saint Mary’s (+7500) is the No. 4 pick to win the West Coast Conference title but is well behind heavy favorite Gonzaga as well as Brigham Young and San Francisco.

San Diego State and Saint Mary’s each have +10000 odds to win March Madness.

  • Game: San Diego State (6-3) vs. Saint Mary’s (10-2)
  • Location: Footprint Center
  • Day/Time: Friday, 10 p.m. ET
  • Television: FloSports

Betting Lines

Team Point Spread Moneyline Over/Under
San Diego State +3 (-110) -145 119 (-110u)
Saint Mary’s -3 (-110) +125 119 (-110o)

San Diego State Aztecs vs. Saint Mary’s Gaels

Elite Defense Leads Aztecs

Defense is as strong as ever for the San Diego State Aztecs

There has been a defense-first philosophy in recent years at San Diego State and this season it is no different.

San Diego State has held its last five opponents to less than 60 points and the Aztecs are 6-1 this season when their opponents shoot less than 40 percent from the field.

In a recent win against Long Beach State, San Diego State didn’t allow a three-pointer, forced a season-best 19 turnovers and held its opponent to just 32.7 percent shooting.

The Aztecs have needed to be in a zone defensively because their offensive numbers are pretty pedestrian, especially a 29.3 percent mark on three-pointers and 66 percent shooting from the foul line.

The issue for the Aztecs would be what is known in the hockey world as a lack of secondary scoring. San Diego State’s top five scorers, led by Matt Bradley, shoot 45 percent from the field but the rest of the team makes less than 33 percent of their shots.

“The games are always going to be close,” San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher said after a 10-point win over Cal State Fullerton. “We have to do a better job on the break. I thought we ran pretty good, but we didn’t take advantage of those situations. So, we got up and down the floor and we could’ve broken the game open early in the first half. We were getting stops and running out, but we weren’t finishing. We have to finish some of those opportunities.”

That offensive inconsistency has contributed to San Diego State failing to cover against the Las Vegas odds in four of the last six games.

Impressive bloodlines for Saint Mary’s freshman

It’s been a while since basketball fans on the West Coast have been able to see a Marciulionis hitting shots and dishing out assists.

Augustus Marciulionis, a 6-foot-4 freshman and the son of former Golden State Warriors star Sarunas Marciulionis, had 11 points in a recent win over UC Santa Barbara.

It was the second straight double-digit scoring game for Marciulionis, who is providing some needed scoring off the bench. The Gaels opened a few eyes with wins over Notre Dame and Oregon to reach the championship game of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational in November.

The Gaels will look to lean heavily on their bench for scoring. Saint Mary’s top scorer is Dan Fotu, who has come off the bench in all 12 games. Fotu is averaging 11.8 points and 4.6 rebounds. Fotu and Marciulionis have gotten to the free-throw line a combined 44 times.

Marciulionis is still looking for some offensive consistency as he is only shooting 35 percent from the field and 27 percent on three-pointers but he is second on the Gaels with 33 assists and one of four Saint Mary’s players with at least 10 steals.

His father was a double-digit scorer in five of his seven NBA seasons. He averaged 18.9 and 17.4 points and at least 3.4 assists per game in his last two seasons during a successful four-year run with Golden State. He finished his NBA career with stops in Seattle, Sacramento, and Denver.

Saint Mary’s is 5-2 against the college basketball spreads in its last seven games

Interesting Mountain West-WCC showdown

Both the San Diego State Aztecs and Saint Mary’s Gaels are scoring less than 70 points per game and allowing fewer than 60 points, so don’t expect an offensive shootout when the teams meet in the Jerry Colangelo Classic.

The total has gone under in five of Saint Mary’s last six games against Mountain West opponents, while the total has gone under in four of San Diego State’s last five games against West Coast Conference teams, so it seems easy to predict where this game is trending. Those who bet online will be dealing with a total of 119, one of the lowest of the day.

Considering that San Diego State ran away for an easy win in the last meeting, it is somewhat surprising to see the Aztecs listed as a three-point underdog so we’d go with San Diego State in this one.

Pick: Under 119

Pick: San Diego State Aztecs +3 (-110)

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