NCAA Tournament First Round Betting Preview: San Diego State Aztecs vs. Houston Cougars – March 15, 2018

by | Mar 12, 2018 | NCAA Basketball

Matchup at a Glance

Where: Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kansas
Date & Time: Thursday, March 15, 2018 at 7:20 PM ET
Spread: Houston Cougars -4
Over/Under Total: 143
Quick Pick: Houston Cougars -4

The 6 seed Houston Cougars will take on the 11 seed San Diego State Aztecs in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.  This game is being played in the West Bracket and will take place at the Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kansas. The game can be seen on TBS and will tip off at 7:20 PM ET.  

BetOnline has made the  Cougars the 4 point favorites in the game and have set the total for the over under at 143 points.

Aztecs Come Into NCAA Tournament On 9 Game Win Streak

The San Diego State Aztecs are going dancing after starting the year with some heavy question marks hanging over their heads. This is a team that started the year with wins over Gonzaga and Georgia but lost games against Cal and Wyoming.  They have been a up and down team but they turned up the pressure in February and March to get this team on a 9 game winning streak.

They are playing their best basketball of the year right now, when it counts, and are playing without a doubt their best defense of the year. They have held 4 of their 6 opponents to 59 or less points.  This team has potential and very well may be undervalued.

One of the biggest weaknesses that I can see coming back to bite this team in the backside is the fact that they play a ton of zone defense. Zone D is ok at times in the game but if you live by the Zone D, you will die by the Zone D.  Any team that can set up outside and shoot, will give this team all they can handle and it just so happens that the team they face in round 1, the Houston Cougars, are perfectly comfortable shooting from outside.

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Cougars Put AAC Championship Loss Behind Them

The Houston Cougars come into this game off a heartbreaking loss to the Cincinnati Bearcats in the American Athletic Conference Tournament game.  The Cougars had the lead in that game but failed to put the game away as Cincinnati came back and won the game. That loss is nothing to be down about because Cincinnati is without a doubt one of the top 10 teams in the country and a #2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

The Cougars ended the season 26-7 overall and 14-4 in the American Athletic Conference.  They are stacked with talent on this team and can shoot the lights out behind the strong shooting of Rob Gray. Gray is averaging 18.5 points per game and is the team’s go-to-guy down the stretch.  Corey Davis Jr is also a threat for the Cougars, averaging 13.5 points per game and is shooting 44% from the three point line.

The Cougars have 4 players that are shooting 34% or better from beyond the three point range.  This team is a very good team shooting overall with 10 of their 14 rostered players shooting over 42% or better from the field.     

Aztecs Zone Defense Costs Them Against Sharpshooting Cougars

The Aztecs have gotten way too comfortable playing zone defense and at times they just don’t come out and play man, when they need to stop teams from going bonkers with three point shots.  That is what could happen here as the Cougars are a very sharp shooting three point team. This Aztec team is not built to come from behind and if they play zone D in this game, that is exactly what will happen.  

I think Gray will go off on this Aztec team and put up a big game from outside shooting. San Diego State should keep it close early but Gray will pick them apart in the second half. I will go with Houston here as the 4 point favorite for 2.5 units.  

Pick: Houston Cougars -4 for 2.5 units

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