San Diego State vs Creighton Odds
It’s hard to believe No. 5 seed San Diego State and No. 6 seed Creighton are battling for the South Region title.
However, this year’s tournament has been anything but predictable. And this game may prove to be similarly unpredictable with high-variance players roaming both ends of the court.
Let’s try and bet what happens, anyway.
This matchup is fascinating because both teams run a similar defensive scheme.
Brian Dutcher has been playing drop-coverage, closeout-perimeter pressure for years. It’s the system that built SDSU into a defensive powerhouse.
San Diego State’s defense is more experienced and, ultimately, better than Creighton’s. No team has more success dictating the opponent’s shot selection, and no team has more success closing out and preventing open shots.
San Diego State’s defense was on full display against Alabama. The Aztecs forced the Tide into low-quality 3s, low-quality layups, and ultimately, low execution.
However, San Diego State’s defense was built to stop Nate Oats’ rim-and-3 offense. Challenging Creighton’s array of weapons will be a different task.
Additionally, the San Diego State offense is always a wild card.
Theoretically, the Aztecs like to attack the midrange and should find success shooting over Creighton’s drop. However, Matt Bradley, Lamont Butler, Darrion Trammell and Keshad Johnson are one of the streakiest shooting quartets in the nation.
The Aztecs could shoot themselves in and out of this one. I think shooting will decide which team advances to the Final Four.
Creighton was never supposed to be a No. 6 seed. That sans-Ryan Kalkbrenner team we saw struggle in non-conference play is a misrepresentation of the true Bluejays.
This team has so many weapons. Creighton grinds opponents down with ball-screen and off-screen sets in the half-court and is happy to either finish at the rim with Kalkbrenner or have Baylor Scheierman chuck it from deep.
However, the straw that stirs the drink is the ball-handling duo of Ryan Nembhard and Trey Alexander. Those two will be huge in this game against San Diego State’s tough on-ball defense.
Greg McDermott built a dominant interior defense in Omaha last season. However, the Bluejays are now a dominant drop-coverage, ball-screen defense with Kalkbrenner roaming the paint, allowing the Bluejays to extend pressure toward the perimeter.
In turn, the Bluejays are ninth nationally in 3PA% allowed. The only way to beat Creighton is to get funneled into the mid-range and finish over the top of Kalkbrenner’s drop.
That hasn’t worked well. Additionally, Creighton boxes out effectively (11th nationally in defensive rebounding rate) and never fouls (second nationally in FTR allowed).
It’s tough to score on Creighton.
San Diego State vs Creighton Betting Pick
Both teams will play drop coverage, and both teams will try to shoot over the top of that drop.
So, which team can spread out the opposing defense and hit shots more consistently?
San Diego State’s offense is very interior and isolation reliant. Meanwhile, Creighton runs elite offensive sets from ball screens to off-screens, and the Bluejays should be able to circumvent San Diego State’s pressure (as long as Nembhard and Alexander hold on to the ball, which they should).
Creighton can generate offense in more ways than San Diego State. Defense is important all season, but teams need to score to win a national championship, and Creighton should do so more effeciently.
Creighton ranks 13th in adjusted efficiency since Feb. 1. The Bluejays deserve to be here, and I think they have the mismatches needed to reach their first Final Four in program history.
As long as the spread stays under one possession, I’m laying the points with the Bluejays.
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