The Final Four tips off tonight with the Florida Atlanta Owls facing the San Diego State Aztecs at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.
The No. 9-seeded Owls look to continue their Cinderella run against a fourth-seeded SDSU program that has been a March Madness regular, but had never made it past the Sweet 16 until this season.
Oddsmakers expect a close contest with March Madness odds opening with FAU as a 1.5-point underdog before ticking up to +2. Here are my best free Florida Atlantic vs. San Diego State college basketball picks and predictions for April 1.
Florida Atlantic vs San Diego State best odds
Florida Atlantic vs San Diego State picks and predictions
FAU has proven that it shouldn't be underestimated but it's tough to see the Owls having success on offense here. This is a team that has relied on outside shooting with a whopping 44% of its field goal attempts coming from beyond the arc.
San Diego State has the nation's second-best 3-point defense, holding opponents to a 27.7% clip from long range. In their past two games, the Aztecs held Alabama and Creighton to a combined 5-of-44 shooting from deep (11.5%).
Although the Owls entered the NCAA Tournament with a sizzling 37.2 3PT%; that number has dipped to 30.9% during the tourney. With the Aztecs able to shut down the Owls on the perimeter, they'll be forced to attack inside with 7-foot-1 center Vladislav Goldin.
Goldin took advantage of Kansas State's weak interior defense in the Elite Eight, racking up 14 points and 13 boards. He'll have a much tougher time against SDSU big man Nathan Mensah, who does an excellent job of protecting the paint and slowed down Creighton's All-Big East center Ryan Kalkbrenner last week.
We've seen that FAU has the defensive chops to pull off a victory against an elite defensive team when it upset Tennessee. However, it struggled to score in that game and also had a tough time generating offense against slower-paced, stingy defenses like North Texas and Charlotte during the regular season.
Take the Under on Florida Atlantic's team total against an SDSU side that is allowing just 55.8 points per game over its last eight contests.
My best bet: Florida Atlantic team total Under 65.5 (-115 at DraftKings)
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Florida Atlantic vs San Diego State spread analysis
It's been an epic run to the Final Four for FAU, who began the tournament by beating Memphis on a bucket with two seconds left on the clock in the opening round. The Owls pulled away from 16th seed Fairleigh-Dickenson in the second round before storming back to upset Tennessee in the Sweet 16. In the Elite Eight, they edged Kansas State 79-76 in a contest where their dominance on the glass (+22 rebounding margin) helped make up for 22 turnovers.
The Owls rolled through the regular season claiming the Conference USA title and boasting an average scoring margin of +12.9 ppg. They've lost just three games all season while going 11-0 straight up and 8-3 against the spread in their last 11 contests.
The Aztecs claimed their own conference title in the Mountain West, which was the highest-rated mid-major conference in the country based on RPI. They are 8-0 SU and 7-1 ATS in their last eight games and are coming off upset victories against Alabama and Creighton last weekend.
Both of these lineups are deep and even in close games during this tourney have relied on their bench for big minutes. The Owls are the more balanced team and rank 24th in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency (24th) according to KenPom, while sitting 30th in adjusted defensive efficiency.
The Owls have a deep lineup led by guards Johnell Davis (13.9 points per game on 49/37/85 shooting splits) and Alijah Martin (13.1 ppg).
San Diego State is a program known for its ability to lock down opponents, and this season is no different, with the Aztecs fourth in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency. They've struggled on the other end of the floor and are 74th in adjusted offensive efficiency while sitting outside the Top 200 in effective field goal percentage (49.6%).
The Aztecs only have one player averaging double digits in points, senior guard Matt Bradley (12.5 ppg on 40/36/80 shooting). Bradley has struggled in the last two games averaging just 4.0 ppg on 17.6 FG% and the Aztecs have needed Darrion Trammell (9.9 ppg) and Lamont Butler (8.7 ppg) to step up.
Florida Atlantic vs San Diego State Over/Under analysis
The Owls have shown the ability to adjust to the gameplan of their opponents, whether that's by grinding out wins against slower-paced defensive-minded teams or by putting up points against up-tempo squads. They proved that in the last two rounds by beating Tennessee and its top-rated defense in a low-scoring battle and edging the faster-paced Wildcats in a shootout.
Although the Owls prefer to push the pace on offense they don't make opponents speed up on the other end of the floor and rank 280th in opponent average possession length (18.0 seconds).
SDSU is 266th in the country in adjusted tempo and thrives on slowing down foes by ranking 345th in the country in opponent average possession length (18.5 seconds).
We've seen that in the last two rounds where the Aztecs held the Crimson Tide to nearly 20 points below their season average before limiting a Creighton squad that ranks 22nd in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency to just 56 points.
Florida Atlantic vs San Diego State betting trend to know
The Under has gone a sizzling 12-0 in San Diego State's last 12 games. Find more college basketball betting trends for Florida Atlantic vs. San Diego State.
Florida Atlantic vs San Diego State game info
|Location:||NRG Stadium, Houston, TX|
|Date:||Saturday, April 1, 2023|
|Tip-off:||6:09 p.m. ET|