The San Diego State Aztecs men’s basketball team will kick off their 2021-2022 season with a game against UC Riverside on November 9. There is a lot of hype around this Aztecs team once again, especially with several key additions.
On Monday, the Associated Press released their first set of Top 25 rankings. However, the Aztecs were nowhere to be found, instead dropping into the others receiving votes category. Even then, Brian Dutcher’s program earned just FIVE votes, six less than Mountain West rival Colorado State.
They finished last year at No. 16 and lost just five games. However, their season ended with an upset loss against Syracuse thanks to the lights-out shooting of Buddy Boeheim.
The Aztecs did lose Matt Mitchell and Jordan Schakel, which will be massive shoes to fill. But, on the other hand, they added transfer Matt Bradley from Cal and talented sophomore Chad Baker, who played last season at Duquesne. Nonetheless, their exclusion from the Top 25 is confusing and shocking.
Exclusion from the Top 25 might not last long for the Aztecs. After facing UC Riverside, they face BYU and Arizona State, two challenging games that could help their case—followed by a major test at the Wooden Legacy on Thanksgiving. After that, the Aztecs start with a matchup against Georgetown and face either one of St. Joseph’s or USC. Both USC and Georgetown made the NCAA Tournament back in March, and beating one– or both– of those teams would be a massive boost for SDSU.
Their biggest game will be against Michigan on December 4 in Ann Arbor. But, in all likelihood, the Aztecs could be right in the middle of the Top 25 by the time Mountain West Conference play rolls around if they play well in non-conference play.
San Diego State can prepare for that with a not-so-secret scrimmage against UCLA, who landed at No. 2 in the entire country after a wildly successful run back in March.
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Aztecs’ Opponents in the Top 25
San Diego State’s schedule is full of talented programs once again. However, Michigan is the only Aztecs opponent to land on the preseason Top 25 list. USC, Colorado State, and BYU are all in the same category as the Aztecs and received some votes, with the Trojans leading the way with 30.
The Mountain West as a whole tends to get overlooked more often than not, and it is likely only a matter of time before the Aztecs land in the rankings.
The ball is in their court, with some huge games before the calendar flips to 2022, and they control their destiny in returning to the treasured Top 25.
Matthew Wadleigh, born in Oceanside and currently lives in Fresno. He lives with his wife and 2 dogs and is a sports enthusiast. Retired drummer and member of the Fresno State Marching Band. He has been a Padres fan since childhood and has suffered during the struggles just like everybody else.