After both teams opened their seasons with wins Tuesday night, BYU opened as a 3-point favorite versus San Diego State before Friday night’s game. KenPom also predicts a close game, predicting a 68-66 win for BYU. BYU is ranked 39 in KenPom and SDSU is ranked 33, so this would be predicted as virtually a toss up on a neutral floor.
SDSU’s win over UC Riverside was similar to BYU’s in some respect. They had a four-point lead with under six minutes to go but closed things out late to win 66-53.
The Aztecs were picked to finish second in the MWC and have a team that will compete for a NCAA Tournament berth once again. They lose their top 3 scorers from a year ago, but added Cal transfer Matt Bradley in the offseason. Bradley averaged double figures in all three of his season in Berkeley and was an All-Pac 12 performer. He averaged 18 ppg last season and had 23 in the season opener.
6-foot-10 big man Nathan Mensah is a classic long, athletic Aztec frontcourt player. Gavin Baxter and Fouss Traore will be charged with keeping him off the boards. Fortunately for BYU, SDSU isn’t much bigger than BYU. They start Mensah and a 6-foot-7 guy in the frount court, and will bring two 6-foot-9 guys off the bench. They are long like every Aztec team and defend well, so BYU will have to be better at avoiding turnovers than they were versus Cleveland State.
If BYU can keep Matt Bradley in check and prevent Mensah from taking over the game athletically then they will have a good shot to come out on top. Senior Trey Pulliam is Bradley’s backcourt mate and second scoring option. He averaged 7 ppg last season and had 15 points in the opener.
BYU won as an 8-point road underdog last season versus an Aztec team that was ranked 18 in the AP poll at the time.
Friday’s game tips off at 7pm MT on BYUtv.
SDSU by the numbers
KenPom Ranking: 33
2020-2021 record: 23-5, 6 seed NCAA Tournament
KenPom Odds: BYU 59% chance to win