NCAA Basketball Picks: Oklahoma vs. San Diego State

David Lawrence

Monday, March 18, 2013 6:49 PM UTC

Monday, Mar. 18, 2013 6:49 PM UTC

The San Diego State Aztecs were viewed in the eyes of many bracketologists to be a No. 10 seed in the NCAA tournament. Instead, they'll play a 10 seed in the round of 64.

College Basketball Betting – Oklahoma vs. San Diego State Picks

Oklahoma can win because…

It has the better coach in this matchup. Steve Fisher of San Diego State is a solid head coach but Lon Kruger of Oklahoma is better. When Oklahoma was selected as an at-large team for this event, Kruger became the first man in history to coach five Division I programs to the NCAA tournament. Seven other men - Tom Penders, Eddie Sutton, Tubby Smith, John Beilein, Lefty Driesell, Rick Pitino, and Jim Harrick - have taken four schools to the tournament.

People who make their NCAA basketball picks know that Kruger has fixed Oklahoma's problems in two short seasons, and that's basically what he does. Kruger is a nomadic coach who doesn't like to climb the ladder in the coaching community. He likes to move laterally, going from place to place so that he always has a fresh challenge to tackle. He'll take over a program, improve it in a few seasons, try to get to the Final Four with it, and then move on when he senses he's reached a stale point in his evolution. The consistency and regularity of Kruger's achievements should inspire confidence in Oklahoma from a betting perspective.

Kruger knows that his team has blown some big second-half leads this season; that, in many ways, has been OU's big problem in 2013. If Oklahoma can build a big lead in this game, expect the Sooners to hold it. Kruger will have his team mentally ready. Moreover, San Diego State struggles to score because it does not have an abundance of pure knockdown shooters. Chase Tapley is a brilliant shotmaker, but if the Sooners can lock him down, San Diego State won't have many options to turn to. The Aztecs would likely falter, giving OU the opportunity it needs in this very even game. San Diego State was overseeded at seven. These teams are basically equals to begin with. Don't be misled by the three-seed difference

San Diego State can win because…

Oklahoma is such an inconsistent team. The Sooners led by 22 points in the second half at Texas and not just at any point in the second half, but with under eight minutes left in regulation. They somehow lost to the Longhorns. Oklahoma led by 12 points against Iowa State with under eight minutes left in regulation in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament this past Thursday in Kansas City. That lead evaporated as well, as Iowa State won, 73-66.

Oklahoma's guards, especially Sam Grooms, are vulnerable to ball pressure. They dribble into traffic and can become very casual with their passes, mechanically lobbing the ball across the court instead of surveying the defense. Oklahoma's battle with the turnover problem is real, and San Diego State - while not a team that uses 94-foot pressure - is extremely rugged in its halfcourt defense. It will be able to play physically against Romero Osby, OU's best scorer and low-post player. Oklahoma did not face strong defensive teams in the Big 12; San Diego State would be the third-best team in that league at the defensive end of the floor, trailing only Kansas and Kansas State in terms of genuine defensive quality.

The other thing that needs to be pointed out is that San Diego State has the best player on the floor. Jamaal Franklin is a wing who plays like a power forward at times. His strength on the glass is considerable, his ability to get to the rim unmatched by any player in this game other than Osby. Franklin, though, is quicker than Osby and can play perimeter defense if that's what the Aztecs need from him. Franklin's versatility gives SDSU a poker chip Oklahoma doesn't have.


Outlook & Prediction:

If you’re making your sports picks, expect this to be a very close game. However, Oklahoma can score more consistently and from more sources than San Diego State can. In a close game, OU merits a very slight edge even though they are the underdog on the NCAA basketball odds.

NCAAB Pick: Oklahoma +2.5 at Bovada

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