With the College Football Playoff national championship game played last night, it’s time to go all-in on college basketball. We start on the West Coast where one of the nation’s two remaining unbeaten teams resides.
San Diego State checks in at 17-0 overall and a perfect 6-0 in Mountain West Conference play. Up next is Fresno State, which is a disappointing 5-11, 1-4 in the MWC. For the better part of a decade, the Aztecs have been putting up wins by the dozens. While this looks like a perfect trap game, Coach Rick is not so sure.
Game: San Diego State Aztecs (17-0, 11-5 ATS) at Fresno State Bulldogs (5-11, 6-8-1)
When: 11:00 PM ET, Tuesday, January 14, 2020
Where: Save Mart Center, Fresno, California
Current Line: SDSU -6.5 Total: 127
TV Coverage: ESPN2
The Aztecs are off to their best start since the 2010-11 season when they reeled off 20 straight wins to open the campaign. One of the big reasons why is head coach Brian Dutcher’s defense.
San Diego State is one of the stingiest teams in the country, ranking fifth in points allowed per game (57.0). The Aztecs are 14th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency.
San Diego State has given up 70 points or more just twice this season. BYU, which averages 78.4 points per game, scored 71, and Big Ten foe Iowa notched 73. The Aztecs have held 11 of their 17 opponents to 57 points or fewer. One of those opponents was Fresno State.
The two MWC rivals met on New Year’s Day in San Diego where the Aztecs were in control of the game from the start. Malachi Flynn, the transfer from Washington State and the team’s leading scorer, led the way with 16 points in a 61-52 Aztecs victory.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRESNO STATE @ SAN DIEGO STATE - JAN. 1, 2020
Fresno State has lost 11 games already this season but eight of them have come by 10 points or fewer. That includes their most recent loss to UC-Irvine last Saturday by three, 60-57. The Bulldogs shot just 20-of-48 from the floor and allowed a 20-point lead to fizzle.
Now, the Bulldogs record against the spread is a rather unimpressive 6-8-1. Fresno State’s home ATS record is an even less impressive 2-3-1.
Going up against one of the premier programs in the Mountain West, does Coach Rick really trust an extremely mediocre Fresno State to cover tonight’s 6.5-point spread?
On the other end, San Diego State is 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games. The Aztecs have covered their last three games and that includes a huge win over Wyoming as 15.5-point favorites. See all NCAA Men’s Basketball spreads on our NCAAB Betting Odds and Lines page.
San Diego State has had recent success on the road too. In their last five games away from home, the Aztecs are 5-0 ATS. For good measure, you can add in the fact that San Diego State is 7-1 ATS in their last eight games played in January.
Now, we could just have former Aztec Kawhi Leonard and former Bulldog Paul George square off in a game of one-on-one. It would probably be more entertaining than tonight’s Aztecs-Bulldogs matchup, but we can’t bet on a Leonard-George (what if we could?!) showdown. So, tonight we’ll take San Diego State to cover.
A native of Western Pennsylvania, Rick, a Generation X-er, who now lives just north of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan. A former high school, college, and professional football player, Rick now spends his time as a high school coach and as a personal quarterback trainer. An all-state high school quarterback, he went on to become an Academic All-American at Division II Indiana University of PA. He later coached at his alma mater helping lead the program to the 1990 NCAA Division II national championship game. Rick has also served as a high school head coach and as an assistant in Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan.
His passion for sports writing started when he was the sports editor for his high school newspaper and continued when he worked as a sportswriter for the Jamestown (New York) Post-Journal in the early 1990s. A true sports fanatic, Rick enjoys all things Pittsburgh: Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. The Immaculate Reception, the 1979 We Are Family Pirates, and the ’91-’92 Penguins are among his favorites. After working as an educator and athletic director for several years, he again took up sports writing and has contributed to several websites and publications, including Coach & Player magazine, X & O Labs, American Football Monthly, and many others.
When not consumed with coaching, watching, thinking about, or writing about football and other seasonal sports, he finds himself working out like he was still in college and reading everything from military history to Brad Thor novels. Rick has also been chasing rock god stardom as a drummer who has played with bands that have opened for the likes of Fuel, Days of the New, and Alien Ant Farm. He continues to play with his church worship group. Most importantly, Rick is married to the love of his life, Lisa, and has two beautiful daughters.