Maui Invitational NCAA Basketball Picks: BYU vs. San Diego St.

Darin Zank

Monday, November 24, 2014 2:01 PM GMT

This handicapper will watch with great interest when 3-0 San Diego State and 3-0 BYU clash out in Maui Monday night. Here's a breakdown of this late-night contrast in styles, with a free college basketball pick.

Aztecs-Cougars Betting Odds
Books we sampled opened this game with San Diego State favored by anywhere from -2.5 to -4. As of early Monday morning the best line we could find on the Aztecs was the -3 offered at Heritage, while BYU was getting +3.5 at Pinnacle.

You can place your College Basketball picks on the Cougars to win this game outright at a price of +135 on the moneyline at 5Dimes.

 

Aztecs-Cougars: The Match-Up
San Diego State returns three starters this season from a team that went 31-5 and reached the Sweet 16 last season. But the Aztecs have to replace G Xavier Thames, who only led the team in scoring, assists and steals last season, and F Josh Davis, who led the team in rebounding.

SD State opened this season with a 79-58 victory over Cal State-Northridge, covering as a 15-point favorite. The Aztecs then beat Utah 53-49, pushing the spread as four-point faves. And last time out San Diego State beat Cal State-Bakersfield last Thursday 51-27 in a game that wasn't lined.

The Aztecs shots just 25 percent from the floor last Thursday – which is a little alarming – but held the Roadrunners to just 21 percent shooting.

Through its first three games of this season San Diego State is shooting just 36 percent from the field, just 23 percent from 3-point range. But it's also held foes to just 32 percent FG shooting. Last time out the Aztecs started two seniors, two juniors and a freshman.

BYU also returns three starters this season, from a team that went 23-12 and made it back to the NCAA tournament, after a one-year absence. But the Cougars have to replace two guys, G Matt Carlino and F Eric Mika, who combined to average 25 points, 10 boards and five assists per game last season.

BYU opened this season with a 95-90 victory over Long Beach State 10 days ago, but couldn't cover the spread as a 14-point favorite on NCAA Basketball odds. The Cougars then beat Arkansas-Little Rock 91-62, covering at -16. And last time out the Cougars crushed somebody called Southern Virginia 101-48 in a game that wasn't lined.

Brigham Young dominated SVU, shooting 54 percent from the floor, holding the Knights to just 29 percent shooting.

Last time out the Cougars started three seniors, a junior and a sophomore.

Through its first three games BYU is shooting 53 percent from the floor, while holding opponents to 39 percent. However, strength-of-schedule probably has something to do with those numbers.

Revisit our earliest picks for 2014 Maui Invitational Bracket

Aztecs-Cougars Recent History
These former conference rivals used to meet two or three times a season, but Monday night will be the first meeting since San Diego State beat BYU 72-54 in the Mountain West tournament championship game back in 2011.

At that moment the Aztecs were ranked No. 6 in the country, the Cougars No. 8. San Diego State was only favored by three points, so the blowout came as a surprise.

 

Aztecs-Cougars Betting Trends
In stark contrast, San Diego State's three games this season have averaged 106 total points this season, while BYU's three games have averaged 163 points.

 

Aztecs-Cougars Free Pick
BYU can throw it in the hole like few other teams in college basketball; San Diego State can ugly-up a game like few teams. The Cougars shot 54 percent from the field their last time out, while the Aztecs shot just 25 percent. But SD State should shoot a little better than that Monday night, and BYU probably won't match its most recent performance. And in match-ups between great offense/great defense, we usually go with the guys who play the better D. So we like the Aztecs in this spot.

Free College Basketball Pick: San Diego State -3 at 5Dimes