Elon gets to the window with relative ease on Monday night, which gives us a good shot to end December with some profit. Wednesday’s play goes out to Cincinnati, Ohio where Steve Fisher’s San Diego State team makes a rare voyage East. Mick Cronin’s Bearcats are waiting in a game that’s slated as a pick by the oddsmakers.
Despite scoring just 36 points in a loss against the Washington Huskies and then barely pulling out a home win against Mike Caffey and Long Beach State, the Aztecs dropped just one spot in the top 25 this week – from 18 to 19. I had the chance to watch SDSU in Viejas Arena last week and could make some pretty clear assessments in the 40 minutes.
The Aztecs really cannot shoot, at all. San Diego State shoots just 40 percent from the field as a team and just over 28 percent from beyond the arc. And it’s really a struggle for them to generate offense in the half court. Part of this is because they haven’t yet found a reliable point guard who distributes the ball around and can break down a defense. Trey Kell assumes that role now and he’s probably best suited for it. But Winston Sheppard continues to find himself handling the ball at the top of the key, which is a mistake if you ask me. Sheppard puts the most pressure on the defense when he catches the ball on either wing, about 18 feet from the basket because he’s in range for his jump shot and can also get to the basket with a single dribble. He stands 6’8″ with great handles for someone that size. And if he catches the ball in that spot, there aren’t too many players in the country who can guard him. But until San Diego State commits to that, or at least tries something else, it will continue to look lost on the offensive end.
SDSU can really play defense though. And this game will certainly be played in the 50s/60s…if it gets there. I don’t know a whole lot about Cincinnati yet this season, but Mick Cronin’s teams of the past actually play quite similarly to Steve Fisher’s. Neither offense has an individual who can break down a defense in the half court so this game should come down to what team forces more turnovers. San Diego State’s defense is probably a bit better, but it almost always takes a severe hit when it transitions from Viejas Arena to the road. I’m not sure this SDSU team has what it takes to win such a game on the road.
Free Pick: Cincinnati PK (-110)
2014 CBB: 7-6-1 +1.40