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BYU-San Diego State Preview: BYU 8-Point Underdogs vs the Aztecs

BYU will get a tough test versus the Aztecs.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 22 BYU at San Diego State Photo by Justin Fine/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Plenty is on the line for BYU Friday afternoon when they travel to Viejas Arena to take on #18 San Diego State. Vegas released its line for the game and opened with SDSU as a 8-point favorite.

SDSU was picked as the preseason MWC favorite and has looked like one of the top teams out West. SDSU already has a pair of wins over Pac 12 favorites UCLA and Arizona State, and as usual the Aztecs present great length and athleticism across the board. BYU’s two losses — versus USC and Boise State — were both against teams that had good perimeter length. SDSU has that, but they are a better offensive team than both of those teams. The Aztecs will likely be the second best team BYU plays after Gonzaga.

Although a tall task, this presents a great opportunity for BYU to pad its at-large resume. If BYU wants a realistic shot at an at-large tourney bid, they probably need to win this game. The middle and bottom of the WCC has gotten better, but no team outside of Gonzaga really moves the needle on its own. A road win at SDSU would certainly be a quality Quad One win.

SDSU Players to Watch

SDSU’s best offensive player is 6-foot-6 senior guard Jordan Schakel. Schakel scored 19 points and was 5-7 from three versus BYU last season. He’s the Aztecs leading scorer at 15.2 ppg and shoots 42% from three. Brandon Averette will probably be the first guy BYU puts on him, but Spencer Johnson, Alex Barcello and Connor Harding will all likely get time too.

6-foot-6 Matt Mitchell may be the Aztecs best player and was a Preseason First-Team All-MWC selection. Mitchell averages 12.6 ppg on the season and is a very versatile defender that can cause BYU problems.

On the interior, 6-foot-10 big man Nathan Mensah is the guy to watch. He dominated in SDSU’s Saturday win at Arizona State, scoring 17 points, grabbing 15 boards and blocking 3 shots. He is an athletic big that will cause BYU matchup problems. Matt Haarms will probably get the main assignment on him as his length could diminish some of Mensah’s athletic advantages. Harward may not have the athleticism to matchup with him consistently, but offensively BYU may throw the ball down to Harward to try to get Mensah in foul trouble and wear him down.

Off the bench, SDSU brings 5-foot-8 grad transfer guard Terrell Gomez, who averaged 20 ppg and shot 44% from three last season at Cal-State Northridge.

SDSU by the numbers

AP Ranking: 18

KenPom Ranking: 28

Record: 5-0

Wins: UCLA, Arizona State, Pepperdine, UC Irvine, Saint Katherine

KenPom Odds: SDSU 77% chance to win