An EVT roundtable discussion on the San Diego State men’s basketball team and the NCAA Tournament.
The Aztecs will play the Creighton Blue Jays in the 8/9 matchup in the Midwest Region of the NCAA Tournament when the official First Round kicks off on Thursday. The Final Four will be played in New Orleans on Saturday, April 2, and the champion decided on Monday, April 4.
How far will the Aztecs go in this year’s tournament?
Andre: The Aztecs will defeat the Bluejays to advance to the Round of 32 for the first time since 2015. However, they will fall to the #1 seed Kansas Jayhawks in that round as their lack of offensive firepower will catch up to them against a team averaging 79 points per game and four players in double digits.
Tron: The Aztecs’ defense should be able to hold against a team that scores mostly through their big man. They’ll win a rock fight against Creighton before falling to Kansas in the round of 32.
Erwin: This is not the 8/9 matchup for your bracket upset. SDSU goes chalk in the first round, but save a 30-point game from Matt Bradley and 15 points from Chad Baker-Mazara, they will lose to Kansas.
Paul: 7’1” Ryan Kalkbrenner will be the difference-maker for Creighton. They will hand SDSU another opening-round loss in the NCAA Tournament. Defensively, Greg McDermott will employ the recipe BYU used in 2020 against the Aztecs. That season, the Cougars used 7’3” Matt Haarms to force Pulliam and Mensah to score in the pick and roll. Unless Bradley is effective shooting off screens from Mensah, it will be a long night for the Red and Black.
Matt: Call me crazy, but this might be the year the Aztecs make it to the Sweet 16. Am I worried about Creighton? A bit, but the Aztecs should be able to get it done. Then comes Kansas. The Jayhawks are scary, but they aren’t your typical #1 seed, and the Aztecs’ defense is one of the best in college basketball. But I really can’t trust this shaky SDSU offense in a game like that.
Dom: I think the Aztecs can win on Thursday over Creighton. It should be a close game, as most 8/9 games are. Then, Kansas is a bad matchup for San Diego State, and the season will likely end on Saturday at the hand of the Jayhawks.
Austin: I will take the bait. Aztecs are going to the Elite Eight. Creighton turns the ball over too much, and their starting point guard missing will show a glaring weakness against the SDSU defensive pressure. Kansas is beatable. For a #1 seed, they only have the 29th rated defense. SDSU has faced multiple tougher defenses in the last week alone. KU also does not have overpowering size. SDSU will need one of their best offensive performances of the year, but it’s certainly possible.
Sam: SDSU belongs squarely in the Round of 32. They’ve got plenty of talent to stop a talented Creighton team with some great wins (Villanova, UConn, and Providence), but also some not so great losses (Butler, Xavier, Georgetown). Matt Bradley will need to find a way to score more than he did in the Mountain West Tournament, but the Aztecs will find a way past the Bluejays. San Diego State is not a good matchup for Kansas, and they will stun the Jayhawks by leading at halftime, but Ochoa Agbaji and Kansas will prove too much and too big for the Aztecs, who lose in a heartbreaker.
Which four teams will make the Final Four?
Andre: Gonzaga, UCLA, Arizona, Kansas
Tron: Gonzaga, Kentucky, Arizona, USC
Erwin: Gonzaga, Baylor, Arizona, Wisconsin
Paul: Boise State, Wyoming, Colorado State, SDSU. What a year for the Mountain West!
Matt: Gonzaga, Purdue, Arizona, Wisconsin
Dom: Gonzaga, Kentucky, Arizona, Kansas
Austin: Texas Tech, Kentucky, Villanova, Auburn
Sam: Gonzaga, Kentucky, Tennessee, Iowa
Which team will be crowned the national champion?
Andre: In a west coast final, the Zags will defeat the Wildcats and finally take home their first national championship after losing in the final game last year against Baylor.
Tron: The belief that Gonzaga can’t win it all is silly. I’ve heard the arguments of how their record against top 3 seeds is not great over the last two decades, but when you adjust for only the championship-caliber teams they have had, it is much better. They still have Drew Timme, and they added Chet Holmgren. It is time for them to finally win one.
Erwin: Arizona. I am a big believer in larger sports narratives, so if there is a story about “this hasn’t happened since…” I am convinced it will likely happen. In this case, Tommy Lloyd took over a brand new team and has a chance to win a national championship in his first season. The last person to do that? Steve Fisher, Michigan 1989.
Paul: My true final four consists of Gonzaga, Kentucky, Arizona, and Kansas, with the Bulldogs, finally bringing it home over the Wildcats.
Matt: Gonzaga. The Bulldogs came so close last year, and they won’t let it slip away this time. Plus, Chet Holmgren is a superstar.
Dom: Kansas. The Jayhawks looked phenomenal in the Big 12 Tournament. They have the length to cause problems defensively, the athleticism to create mismatches, and great shot creation. I also think they have the easiest draw to the Final Four.
Austin: Going out on a limb, Villanova. You have to trust Jay Wright in March. Of all the #1 and #2 seeds, they have the highest minutes continuity. They have a top 10 offense and top 30 defense. They are hot coming into the tournament.
Sam: Tennessee will stun Gonzaga in the national championship game, crushing the Zags at the final stages again. Gonzaga is a great team, but they haven’t played four elite teams in a row all year long. Tennessee does that on a consistent basis. The Volunteers will cut down the nets for the first time.