San Diego State (1-0) at Utah (1-0)
When: Monday, November 16th 2015
Where: Jon M. Huntsman Center, Salt Lake City, UT
Time: 9:30 ET | TV: ESPN2
Former WAC and Mountain West Conference members San Diego State and Utah will meet tonight as part of ESPN’s tip-off marathon. Both are solid teams that should make the NCAA Tournament and a win tonight would strengthen their RPI. San Diego State is coming off a season opening 71-60 win over Illinois State in which freshman Jeremy Hemsley made an immediate impact. Hemsley poured in 20 points and also had 6 rebounds and 5 assists and hit 8-of-13 shots. Point guard was a weakness last year for the 27-9 Aztecs and it looks as though Hemsley will fit in nicely. He was a consensus top-100 recruit out of Rancho Cucamonga, California. Junior guard Dakarai Allen, who didn’t start a game last year, logged 28 minutes and scored 16 points and was 7-of-8 from the free-throw line. If San Diego State can find some offense this year, then they can be a threat come March. They were the number one ranked defense in the very competitive Mountain West Conference last year.
Future NBA Lottery pick Jakob Poeltl leads a very good Utah squad coming off a 26-9 season and a Sweet 16 trip. Poeltl started off the season strong in a win over Southern Utah 82-71. He was one of three players to score over 20 points that included Kyle Kuzma and Jordan Loveridge. Poeltl added 11 rebounds in his 33 minutes while Kuzma grabbed 12 boards in his first career start. Utah’s starting backcourt had a terrible night as senior SG Brandon Taylor and sophomore PG Isaiah Wright were a combined 0-for-16 from the floor and both were held scoreless. Much like San Diego State, the Utes will need to show more on offense this season and guard play is the key. Defensively, they were the best statistically in the PAC 12 holding opponents to just 57.1 points a game. This will be a great test for Utah who beefed up their non-conference schedule and will also have dates with Duke and Wichita State before diving into the rough PAC 12.
This should be a very close hard-fought game between two underrated teams. It’s a little too early to tell who’s really better of the two, so I’m going to take the points in this one.
Pick: San Diego State +5.5