The connection here goes back decades, when Aztecs coach Brian Dutcher helped recruit Juwan Howard—the current Wolverines coach—to Michigan as part of that vaunted Fab Five class.
Family, Dutcher called Howard. It’s mutual. The SDSU boss also said this could be a win that puts his squad into the NCAA Tournament. He told reporters in San Diego, “We need to approach it like that.”
Wishful thinking. Whatever the approach, which would have been challenging without Lamont Butler, the reality will be sour for State. It will be fortunate to scrape together 50 points.
Watch Michigan stretch a lead to 20 points when Howard takes it easy on “family.” CBS will air it to a national television audience, but it will not be pleasant viewing.
San Diego State Aztecs (5-2, 3-4 ATS)
The Aztecs were going to have trouble here even with Butler, a sophomore starting guard who fractured his left wrist Tuesday in a 25-point victory over Long Beach State.
Butler had been averaging nearly 10 points. For a team that struggles to score, he will be sorely missed.
Both of these defenses are top-10 in adjusted efficiency, according to KenPom figures. Both squads rank poorly in 3-point shooting and are élite in 3-point defense. The Aztecs are 17th at 25.4%, with the Wolverines fifth at 22.8%.
Both also reek at the line, where SDSU connects on only 65.6% of its free throws, 300th among the 358 D-I programs, and Michigan is only slightly better at 66.9% (No. 264).
No. 24 Michigan Wolverines (4-3, 2-5 ATS)
The Wolverines will be playing at home, and they are hitting 2-point shots at a 58.2% clip, which ranks 14th in the land. Those factors fuel them to an easy and ugly victory.
Their games are 6-1 to UNDER, so they’re accustomed to rock fights. They’ve averaged fewer than 60 points in their past three games.
The Aztecs average less than 52 points on the road, and their games are also 6-1 to the UNDER. This total probably can’t be set low enough.
Senior guard Eli Brooks (15.7 ppg) and 7-foot-1 sophomore center Hunter Dickinson (14.8 ppg, 8 rpg) are Michigan’s pillars.
Howard gets an average of 30 or more points from guards Caleb Houstan and DeVante Jones, and forwards Moussa Diabete and Terrance Williams II.
SDSU at Michigan Pick
We apply Ken Pomeroy’s peerless metrics, used by many oddsmakers to set lines, to establish our spreads and totals. Based on this estimated total, we’re on the UNDER. If the actual line posted by sportsbooks is lower than 125, the UNDER may no longer be a play.
Our Pick: Under 125 (-110)
Update: On Saturday morning, most books including PointsBet were dealing a more attractive 126.5 for UNDER bettors.