West Region Third Round Betting Preview: #12 North Dakota State Bison vs #4 San Diego State Aztecs

2014 NCAA Tournament
West Region – Third Round

Spokane Arena – Spokane, Washington
#12 North Dakota State Bison vs #4 San Diego State Aztecs
Saturday, March 22, 2014, 6:10 pm Eastern, TV: TNT
Opening Line: San Diego State -4
Current Line: San Diego State -3 1/2
Opening Total: 125
Current Total: 126 1/2
Opening Money Line: SDSU -180 / NDSU +155
Current Money Line: SDSU -180 / NDSU +155

San Diego State is a 3.5 point favorite against North Dakota State in the West Region third round in Spokane Saturday.

San Diego State is a 3.5 point favorite against North Dakota State in the West Region third round in Spokane Saturday.

The #12 North Dakota State Bison and #4 San Diego State Aztecs meet Saturday in the West Region third round in Spokane. The winner will advance to the West regional semifinal in Anaheim next week and take on either #1 Arizona or #8 Gonzaga.

North Dakota State is 26-6 won the Summit League regular season title with a 12-2 record. The Bison beat Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne 60-57 in the Summit Championship game to clinch the auto bid. NDSU has won 10 straight games and 15 of the last 16.  The Bison are making their second NCAA appearance all-time after losing to Kansas in the 2009 first round. They gained their first ever tournament win by upsetting #5 seed Oklahoma 80-75 in overtime in the second round Thursday.

San Diego State is 30-4 and won the Mountain West regular season title with a 16-2 record. The Aztecs lost to New Mexico 64-58 in the Mountain West Championship game. The loss snapped a 6 game winning streak for the Aztecs. San Diego State is making their fifth straight tournament appearance and ninth overall. The Aztecs escaped with a narrow 73-69 victory over #13 seed New Mexico State in Thursday’s second round.

San Diego State leads the series against North Dakota State 3-0, but the teams haven’t played since 1971. They played 3 times between 1970 and 1971.

North Dakota State is coached by Saul Phillips. The Bison have losses at St. Mary’s, Southern Miss, at North Dakota, at Ohio State, at IPFW, and at Denver. NDSU went 2-1 against NCAA tournament teams this season. The Bison have key wins at Western Michigan, at Santa Clara, Rider in Santa Clara, at Notre Dame, Delaware, Towson, Utah Valley State, South Dakota State twice, IPFW twice, and Denver twice. North Dakota State is 13-14 ATS and the total is 14-11 this season.

North Dakota State is outscoring teams 76-65 this season. The Bison are #61 or better nationally in both categories. NDSU is shooting 50.9% from the field and 36.6% from 3 point range. The Bison lead the nation in field goal percentage. NDSU is #26 in free throw shooting making 74.7% from the line. Bison opponents are shooting 42.6% from the field and 36.7% from 3 point range. NDSU is #291 out of 351 teams in 3 point defense. The Bison average 32.7 rebounds per game and opponents average 26. NDSU is #283 in rebounds and #3 nationally in rebounds allowed. The Bison average 11.8 assists, 9.8 turnovers, 6.5 steals and 4.4 blocks per game. Opponents average 11.2 assists, 11.8 turnovers, 5.1 steals and 1.9 blocks per game.

Guard Taylor Braun averages 18.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. Forward Marshall Bjorklund averages 13.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game. Forward TrayVonn Wright averages 11.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. Guard Lawrence Alexander averages 10.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1 steal per game. Kory Brown, Mike Felt, Jordan Aaberg, and Chris Kading will also get significant minutes in the rotation.

San Diego State is coached by Steve Fisher. The Aztecs have losses to Arizona, at Wyoming, and New Mexico twice. San Diego State has key wins over UC-Riverside, College of Charleston, Creighton and Marquette (in a tournament in Fullerton, CA),  at San Diego, Washington, Colorado State twice, at Kansas, Boise State twice, Air Force twice, Fresno State twice, UNLV 3 times, San Jose State twice, Utah State 3 times, Nevada, and New Mexico. The Aztecs are 18-13 ATS and the total is 8-22 this season.

San Diego State is outscoring teams 71-57 this season. The Aztecs are #2 nationally in points allowed. SDSU is shooting 43.7% from the field and 35.8% from 3 point range. The Aztecs are #315 nationally in free throw shooting at 65.4% from the line. SDSU opponents are shooting 38.4% from the field and 28.7% from 3 point range. The Aztecs are #8 in field goal defense and #4 in 3 point defense nationally. SDSU is averaging 37.8 rebounds per game and opponents average 29.3 per game. The Aztecs are #43 nationally in rebounding. SDSU averages 10.2 assists, 9.9 turnovers, 7.9 steals and 5.2 blocks per game. Opponents average 9.8 assists, 14.1 turnovers, 4.5 steals and 4.3 blocks per game.

Guard Xavier Thames was the  Mountain West player of the year. He averages 16.8 points, 3 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.7 steals per game. Forward Winston Shepard averages 12.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. Forward J.J. O’Brien averages 8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game. Forward Dwayne Polee II averages 7.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game. Forward josh Davis averages 7.7 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1 steal per game. Matt Shrigley, Aqeel Quinn, Skylar Spencer, Dakarai Allan, and James Johnson will also get significant minutes. Spencer leads the team in blocks at 2.5 per game.

North Dakota State is 4-1 ATS in neutral site games, 4-11 after a cover, 5-2 after a straight up win, in  non-conference games, and overall.

San Diego State is 5-2 ATS after failing to cover and in neutral site games, 1-4 in Saturday games and in NCAA Tournament games.

Like most people I hadn’t watched North Dakota State play this season. I watched a little bit of the Summit League Championship game against IPFW  and all of the Oklahoma game. The Bison are a tough gritty team that won’t quit. They match-up well with San Diego State who is great on defense but the offense struggles sometimes. I like North Dakota State to continue their Cinderella run and upset the Aztecs.

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