Odds between San Diego State and Nevada
San Diego State maintains a one-game lead at the top of the Mountain West leaderboard as the Aztecs enter their toughest three-game stretch of their conference schedule. They’ll play Boise State this weekend and travel to Utah State next week, but the Aztecs will travel to Reno first to face Nevada on Tuesday night.
The Wolf Pack is unbeaten at home this season, with a 10-0 record that includes wins over Boise State, New Mexico and Utah State in league games. It’s also an excellent rematch point for Nevada after the Aztecs beat the Wolf Pack by nine points in the two teams’ first meeting on Jan. 10.
Despite being a good situational spot for Nevada at home after a costly away loss at UNLV on Saturday, the market has been solid against the Wolf Pack. The Aztecs started as a 1-point favorite and now have almost full possession of the ball. The matchup is significantly less favorable for the wolf pack than the spot, and the Aztecs still show some value even after the night’s steam.
The question for San Diego State entering the season is whether it would be able to score enough points to complete a really deep NCAA tournament run and complement its elite defense. What we have learned this season is that the Aztecs have a lot of offense, but the defense has shown unexpected cracks and has fallen from its former elite level of years past.
The Aztecs now have comparable offensive and defensive efficiency stats, according to KenPom, which is quite a surprise considering how the season has started. The Aztecs have the 248th best 2-point defense in the country, they underperform in transition defense and underperform against ball sieves according to Synergy.
Last season, ShotQuality ranked this defense 24th-best in perimeter field goal percentage allowed. They fell just outside the top 100 this year. This is still an elite perimeter defense – they rank 11th in the Open 3 rate and can use ball pressure to throw attacks out of their rhythm and force turnovers.
San Diego State has some matchup advantages in this game, but they can capitalize on one. The Aztecs engage in offensive pick-and-roll at one of the highest rates in the country, and that’s a major weakness for Nevada defenses. The Wolf Pack ranks in the 28th percentile per Synergy nationally in pick-and-roll defense. San Diego State has been pushing for transition for the past several years, and that will take advantage of a porous Nevada transitional defense in this matchup.
Nevada goes to high post for offense more than most offenses in the country, and the wolf pack is pretty efficient there. One of the main reasons this is a bad matchup for them is because the Aztecs have one of the best post-up defenses in the country.
On paper, SDSU was a top 20 post-up defense unit going into the season. Even using data from this year with reigning MWC Defensive Player of the Year Nathan Mensah, the Aztecs guard the 72nd percentile post.
The Aztecs also have the individual defender quality on the ball to thwart Jarod Lucas’ isolation talent and shooting quality. Lucas managed 11 points on 2-of-6 shooting and 1-of-4 from deep in the first meeting. Post-up first forward Will Baker only scored seven points.
Nevada’s offense should stay in this game by hitting the free throw line, but there’s no other easy way for them to get points. The Wolf Pack’s transition offense is pretty mediocre, and that’s one area where the Aztecs are significantly more vulnerable defensively this season.
San Diego State vs. Nevada Betting Tip
It’s important to note that although Nevada covered the final line with a nine-point loss through the backdoor in the last meeting, they were never in the game. San Diego State was not a second behind in the game and led by as much as 22 points in the last 10 minutes. The Wolf Pack ended the game on a 15-2 run to make the result look a lot more respectable than it was.
This isn’t the only time the Aztecs have taken their foot off the gas and struggled with teams in the closing minutes of games as they defended a huge lead. Overall, it’s dampening their efficiency metrics and market valuations more than it should.
San Diego State certainly has trouble breaking pressings without turning the ball over, but they’re clearly the much better team in a very favorable matchup on Tuesday. I would put the Aztecs at -3 or better.
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