Vaughn Dalzell breaks down how to bet the Elite 8 matchup between the Creighton Blue Jays and San Diego State Aztecs.
San Diego State vs. Creighton (-2.5): O/U 134.5
After losing in the first round of 2020 and 2021, San Diego State is making its run and became the first MWC team to make the Elite 8 in NCAA history, but there's more.
This game is a rematch of the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament. San Diego State led at halftime 37-30 and Creighton stormed back from 62-53 with 3:21 remaining to force OT and eventually win 72-69.
Creighton had a 2.1% win probability with 3:21 left in the second half of that game and won.
So there is revenge for San Diego State here as the Aztecs are one of the oldest teams in the country playing with seven seniors and two juniors in the rotation. The Aztecs average DI experience is 2.95 years (21st), they bring back 61.1% of their minutes (39th) and like I briefly mentioned, they have a deep bench (31st in bench minutes).
Creighton only brings back 12.4% of its minutes from last season (341st) with 1.33 years of average DI experience (310th) and an underutilized bench (312th in bench minutes).
Outside of San Diego State's motivation and Creighton having a completely different team than last year, this comes down to turnovers, three-pointers and strength of opponents.
Creighton has played three subpar defenses, NC State, Baylor and Princeton thus far, so this test defensively versus San Diego State will be problematic from my point of view.
San Diego State held its three opponents to six or fewer made three-pointers made each game and 14-of-77 (18.1%) total from three-point range. The Aztecs defense allowed 57, 52 and 64 points during the tournament and 64 or less in seven-straight games (all wins). Creighton is 3-8 when they score 71 or fewer points this season.
Creighton scores 34.8% of its points from three-point range (82nd), so if they are struggling to make triples, then they are in trouble. Creighton went 20-of-48 (41.6%) from three in the last two games but that first round game could be a preview of this matchup because the Blue Jays went 3-of-20 (15%) from downtown against NC State (57th in 3PTD).
However, Creighton comes in with the 13th-ranked defense and a top 30 two-point defense (45.9%) and defensive rebounding percentage (23.2%) with the much quicker tempo of the two teams.
On the other hand, the Blue Jays rank 359th in defensive turnover percentage (13.9%) compared to the Aztecs who are 104th (19.3%), which could be a problem.
San Diego State forced Alabama into 14 turnovers, plus Furman and Charleston into 19 combined turnovers for 33 overall compared to Creighton who forced 21 total turnovers in that same span.
Give me San Diego State to extract revenge on Creighton. I took San Diego State +2.5 (-118) as I think they can win this game.
Pick: San Diego State +2.5 (1u)
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