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No. 6 San Diego St. vs. No. 11 Syracuse preview, picks for first round of 2021 NCAA Tournament

The San Diego State Aztecs and Syracuse Orange meet at Hinkle Fieldhouse in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament. We’ve got everything you need on both teams ahead of the game here.

Will Syracuse upset San Diego State?

Update March 19: Here are the updated bet splits for No. 6 San Diego State vs. No. 11 S as of March 19th at 7 a.m. from DraftKings Sportsbook:

San Diego State: -3: 64% of action, 52% of bets
Syracuse: +3: 36% of action, 48% of bets

Over 138.5: 57% of action, 46% of bets
Under 138.5: 43% of action, 54% of bets


Update March 18: Here are the updated bet splits for San Diego State vs. Syracuse as of March 18th at 1:30 p.m. from DraftKings Sportsbook:

San Diego State -3: 72% of handle, 57% of bets
Syracuse +3: 28% of handle, 43% of bets
Over 139: 62% of handle, 51% of bets
Under 139: 38% of handle, 49% of bets


Fresh off Mountain West regular season and tournament titles, the San Diego State Aztecs earned the No. 6 seed and will meet the 11th-seeded Syracuse Orange on Friday, March 19th. San Diego State is a slight favorite to win this game, which will get started at 9:40 p.m. ET from Hinkle Fieldhouse on CBS.

No. 6 San Diego State: 23-4 (14-3 MOUNTAIN WEST): Automatic bid

KenPom rating: 20 Overall, 44 Offense, 11 Defense
NET ranking: 18, (1-3 VS Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Matt Mitchell
Key stat: San Diego State ranks No. 1 in the Mountain West and No. 16 in the NCAA in average turnover margin at 3.9.

The strength of San Diego State comes on the defensive end of the floor where they allow just 60.3 point per game, which ranks No. 8 in the country. Opponents are making 38.7% of their shots, the seventh-best in college basketball. The Aztecs lead the Mountain West in three-point shooting at 37.5%.

Watch for Jordan Schakel to get hot from the three-point line. Prior to the conference title game, he knocked down at least three 3-pointers in four straight games and is shooting at 46.7% from beyond the arc, which is third best in the country.

No. 11 Syracuse: 16-9 (9-7 ACC): At-large

KenPom rating: 41 Overall, 22 Offense, 89 Defense
NET ranking: 40 (1-7 VS QUAD 1)
Leading scorer: Buddy Boeheim
Key stat: Syracuse is second in the ACC in free throw shooting percentage at 78.4%.

Syracuse ranks much better offensively than they do defensively according to the adjusted efficiency metric, but the Orange rank eighth in the ACC in field goal percentage and 10th in three-point shooting, though they shoot the ball well from the free throw line. On the other end, Syracuse allows the third-lowest field goal percentage and is the second-best in defending the three-point line.

Watch for Syracuse to work the ball inside and drive to the hoop because they’re likely going to be much more successful trying to get to the free throw line than launching a high volume of threes.

March Madness Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

Point spread: San Diego State -2.5
Point total: 139.5
Moneyline: San Diego State -148, Syracuse +125

The Pick

Against The Spread Pick: San Diego State -2.5
Point total pick: Under 139.5
Pick to Win: San Diego State

The Orange are headed for a first round exit for the second consecutive NCAA Tournament. San Diego State played in a tough Mountain West especially at the top, and they’ll be ready for Syracuse. The Aztecs play a slow style of basketball, making this under hit with ease, and they will be good enough from three-point range to win this game and cover the 2.5.