Our resident NCAAB handicapper previews the second round game in the South Region between St. John’s & San Diego State. Join us in reading his betting preview which concludes with an ATS selection.
Aztecs Battle with Red Storm in South Region
The #8 seed San Diego Aztecs (26-8) will take on the #9 seed St. John’s Red Storm (21-11) on Friday at 9:40 PM ET. This is a second round game in the South Region being played at Charlotte, North Carolina. According to the NCAA Tournament betting odds at BetOnline, San Diego State is a 3.0 point favorite, and the posted total is 120.0.
Key Suspension for Red Storm
St. John’s will be without 6’10 junior center Chris Obekpa who’s been suspended for violation of team rules. Obekpa is the school’s all time leading shot blocker with 921. He’s started in 24 of 30-games this season, averaged 5.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 3.2 blocks per game (5th nationally).
St. John’s Confidence Shaken
The Red Storm certainly won’t be heading into the NCAA tournament on a high note. They concluded the regular season slate with a 105-68 loss at Villanova, and then were eliminated in their Big East Tournament opener as a result of a 74-57 drubbing versus Providence. Prior to that two game debacle, St. John’s had won four in a row, and seven of the previous eight. One area of major concern heading into Friday’s second round game is their rebounding. St. John’s is at a -10.0 rebound per game differential in their last five contests, and that includes an 86-62 disadvantage in those previous two blowout defeats. St. John’s finished fifth in the Big East regular season standings with record of 10-8.
The San Diego State Aztecs are a terrific defensive team that allows a paltry 53.1 points per game, and are holding opponents to just 37.7% shooting from the field. The Aztecs enter the NCAA Tournament having seen five of their previous six games go under the total. The average total in those six games was just 117.9, and there was only an average of 108.0 combined points scored per contest. San Diego State (14-4) finished tied for first with Boise State in the Mountain West Conference regular season standings. The Aztecs lost in the conference tournament final to Wyoming by a score of 45-43. The one flaw that can jump up and bite that Aztecs in the NCAA Tournament is their free throw shooting. They’ve converted on a terrible 62.9% of their attempts for the season.
This has all the ear marks of a potentially ugly game, and quite frankly that would suit San Diego State just fine. The Aztecs can be an extremely frustrating team to play against, and especially for an opponent which is already lacking confidence.
The loss of Obekpa will definitely hurt a St. John’s team which was already has immense struggles on the glass. It would be hard to imagine that the lingering effects from two blowout losses in a row won’t have some sort of psychological effect on St. John’s.
San Diego State is athletic, disciplined, and fundamentally sound. St. John’s has recently faltered at the most inopportune time. My lean will be on the favorite in this game for one of my NCAA tournament picks.
Free NCAA Tournament Pick: Play on San Diego State -3 at BetOnline