San Diego State and Wyoming meet in a Mountain West showdown Saturday in the third CBS game of the day as the preseason favorites to win the league title square off for the first of two scheduled meetings in the regular season. The Aztecs, who were picked to finish first in the MWC, have been solid as expected during an 11-3, 2-0 MWC start. But things haven't gone as planned for the Cowboys (5-9, 0-2) after the program's 25-9 breakthrough 2021-22 campaign in Jeff Linder's second season as coach.
Still, a home game against SDSU represents a chance for Wyoming to get back on track with a statement victory as the Cowboys await the return of star big man Graham Ike. The All-Mountain West performer suffered a lower leg injury before the season that was initially estimated to sideline him for 6-8 weeks. He's yet to return after averaging 19.5 points and 9.6 rebounds last season.
Without him, Wyoming ranks 215th nationally in defensive efficiency, per Kenpom.com, after finishing last season 71st in the same metric. Wyoming remains a formidable 3-point shooting team with an average of 8.9 long-range makes per game. Guards Noah Reynolds and Brendan Wenzel have been the primary marksmen have been the top shooters thus far.
San Diego State's hallmark is a stingy defense that has forced 16.1 turnovers per game while holding opponents to just 30.2% shooting from beyond the arc. Offensively, Seattle transfer Darrion Trammell is leading the way with 13.2 points per game while pitching in 3.8 assists and 1.8 steals. Trammell and veteran wing Matt Bradley are each shooting 37.1% from 3-point range on more than four attempts per game.
With wins over BYU, Stanford and Ohio State already on the resume -- in addition to a nice road win over UNLV last Saturday -- the Aztecs are just outside the AP Top 25 and on track for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. But a loss against a struggling Wyoming would be a hit to their resume.
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San Diego State vs. Wyoming prediction, picks
Wyoming is off to a frustrating start after being picked to finish second in the Mountain West behind San Diego State. The Cowboys are missing star big man Graham Ike, who hasn't played yet this season due to injury, and they will have their hands full with the Aztecs' sharpshooting tandem of Darrion Trammell and Matt Bradley. San Diego State is a sound defensive squad that can force opponents to go long stretches without scoring. The Aztecs should be able to use that defense to pull away late. Pick: San Diego State -8
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