Final Four Game 1 Betting Preview

The wildest Final Four in years begins Saturday night with a matchup nobody predicted between the Florida Atlantic Owls and the San Diego State Aztecs.

At Bovada Sportsbook, the Aztecs are 2-point favorites in the first of two national semifinal games. San Diego State was the No. 5 seed in the South Region and made it to the Final Four for the first time in program history after back-to-back upsets. The Aztecs took down the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide 71-64 as 6.5-point underdogs in the Sweet 16 and then edged the No. 6 Creighton Bluejays 57-56 as 2.5-point underdogs in the Elite Eight.

Aztecs games have been money for UNDER bettors

Overall the Aztecs have won eight straight with a 7-1 record against the spread. They’ve also been a solid UNDER play for totals bettors, with their last 12 games going UNDER the posted total. That UNDER trend stretches back even further as they’re 20-9 UNDER in their last 29 games.

Prior to this year’s tournament, the Aztecs were mainly a one-and-done team with four straight losses in March Madness heading into 2023. However, as a tournament favorite, they’re 8-4 straight up and 7-5 ATS in their last 12.

If the Aztecs making the Final Four is a surprise, then the Owls’ appearance is downright shocking. The Owls made their NCAA Tournament debut last year but were quickly shown the exit in the first round. This year as a No. 9 seed from the East Region, three of their four tournament wins have been upsets. That includes their 79-76 win over the Kansas State Wildcats as 1.5-point underdogs in the Elite Eight.

Florida Atlantic has won four straight as an underdog

The Owls have now won 11 straight overall with an 8-3 record ATS. As an underdog this season, they are 6-2 SU and ATS, which includes winning four straight.

This is the third matchup between the Aztecs and Owls since 2000. In 2000, the Aztecs crushed the Owls 90-57 and they also picked up a victory in 2002 by a score of 91-75. Neither of those games got attention from oddsmakers.

A No. 9 vs No. 5 matchup is very rare in the tournament, with only two on record in the last three decades. The most recent took place in 2018 when the No. 9 Kansas State Wildcats upset the No. 5 Kentucky Wildcats 61-58 as 5-point underdogs. In the only other 9 vs 5 matchup, in 2010, the No. 5 Michigan State Spartans defeated the No. 9 Northern Iowa Panthers 59-52 as 1-point favorites.