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No. 9 FAU vs. No. 5 SDSU preview, picks for Final Four of 2023 NCAA Tournament

The Owls and the Aztecs meet at NRG Arena in the Final Four of the 2023 NCAA Tournament. We’ve got everything you need on both teams ahead of the game here.

Florida Atlantic v Kansas State Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The No. 9 FAU Owls take on the No. 5 SDSU Aztecs in the Final Four — the first Final Four in history for both programs. FAU overcame Kansas State and SDSU beat Creighton in two thrillers to reach the tournament semifinals.

The game will air at 6:09 p.m. ET on CBS on Saturday, April 1. SDSU enters as a 2-point favorite.

No. 9 FAU Owls

First-round result: Defeated Memphis, 66-65
Second round result: Defeated FDU, 78-70
Third-round result: Defeated Tennessee, 62-55
Fourth-round result: Defeated Kansas State, 79-76
KenPom rating: 17 Overall, 24 Offense, 29 Defense
NET ranking: 13, (2-1 VS Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Johnell Davis, 13.9 ppg
Key stat: Attempt an average of 27.3 three-pointers per tournament game

The FAU Owls kept moving in an instant classic against Kansas State that saw four players reach double-digit scoring. That kind of depth will need to come in handy as they face the best-remaining defense in the tournament. FAU has been reliant on their three-point shooting, staying steady just below 30% for much of the tournament before hitting 39% from the perimeter in their latest game. SDSU will challenge those shots time and time again.

No. 5 SDSU Aztecs

First-round result: Defeated Charleston 63-57
Second-round result: Defeated Furman 75-52
Third-round result: Defeated Alabama 71-64
Fourth-round result: Defeated Creighton 57-56
KenPom rating: 14 Overall, 75 Offense, 4 Defense
NET ranking: 14, (5-5 VS Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Matt Bradley 12.5 ppg
Key stat: Has not allowed a team to shoot more than 23% from the three, held two teams under 12%

I wish I could say SDSU has been the biggest surprise of this tournament, but just take a look at who they’re facing this weekend. They have been a powerhouse of a defense this tournament, though, shocking teams who struggle from their usual go-to spots on the court when they face the Aztecs. They have allowed a team to score more than 57 points just once, and it was overall No. 1 Alabama. SDSU limited a very consistent Creighton offense to just 11% from the three and 40% from the field and held Alabama to 11% from the three and 32% from the field.

Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

Point spread: SDSU -2
Point total: 131.5
Moneyline: SDSU -130, FAU +110

The Pick

Against The Spread Pick: SDSU -2
Point total pick: Under 131.5
Pick to Win: SDSU -130

SDSU’s defense is completely stifling and has shut down many higher-ranked teams than FAU. The Owls’ dependence on the three-point line, which SDSU has been all over this tournament, does not bode well for their chances. I see this being a low-scoring and perhaps somewhat ugly battle that SDSU ends up winning in the end by a shot or two.