The first big upset of the 2023 NCAA Tournament was courtesy of No. 13 seed Furman, which shocked fourth-seeded Virginia with a late 3-pointer to pull off the win.
Don’t bet on the Paladins catching those same breaks against an experienced and tenacious San Diego State squad.
Furman doesn’t own a prolific 3-point offense so much as a determined one: The Paladins rank 12th nationally in 3-point rate (46.5 percent) but are connecting on just 34.4 percent of those attempts, which ranks outside of the top 150.
San Diego State vs. Furman pick
We saw that play out on Thursday, when Furman made just four of its first 17 3-point attempts before hitting six of its final 11 — including that dagger with two seconds left — to overwhelm a lax Virginia defense that was vulnerable against the 3-ball all year long.
That isn’t the case with San Diego State, which has ranked in the top 10 in defensive efficiency and 3-point percentage (28.9 percent) across the entire season.
The Aztecs’ defense was a constant irritant for Charleston — another high-volume, low-efficiency 3-point shooting team — which finished just 5-for-24 on treys (20.8 percent) and scored 0.83 points per 100 possessions in a first-round loss.
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SDSU profiles as a top-10 team in the country since Feb. 1, with the most efficient defense in the country, ranking fifth in effective field-goal percentage (42.9 percent) and second in 3-point percentage (25.4 percent).
Barring a miracle run from deep, I just don’t see Furman generating enough offense to pull off a second straight stunner.
San Diego State vs. Furman prediction
San Diego State -5.5 (-110, PointsBet)