Only two weeks remain in the Mountain West regular season for the San Diego State Aztecs men’s basketball team, so it is time to start looking ahead to March.
After game 1 against the Fresno State Bulldogs, the Aztecs hold a 16-4 record with a 10-3 conference record. The 10-3 conference record is currently good for fourth in the Mountain West. If the regular season ended today, SDSU would face the Nevada Wolfpack in the quarterfinals of the Mountain West Conference tournament.
That is where the Aztecs stand locally, but where do they stand nationally?
In the grand scheme of things, this doesn’t impact March Madness, but the Aztecs re-entered the top-25 of the AP Poll at number 25 on Monday. San Diego State last played as a ranked team on December 18, when they lost to the BYU Cougars.
Another set of rankings that do not impact March Madness are the KenPom rankings. Ken Pomeroy, the founder of KenPom, runs a college basketball analytics website that is well regarded by all college basketball analysts.
KenPom takes a team’s performance and averages it per 100 possessions, so that every team is on a level playing field. San Diego State is beloved by KenPom, especially defensively. SDSU’s defensive efficiency ranks 17th in the nation at 91.0, which means per 100 possessions, San Diego State on average allows 91.0 points.
Offensively, San Diego State is not as strong, according to KenPom. This is no surprise to anyone who watches SDSU basketball. However, the offense is still better than average, ranking 45th in the nation with an adjusted offensive efficiency of 111.8, meaning they’d average 111.8 points per 100 possessions.
The Adjusted Efficiency Margin is the difference between your adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency, or how much you would beat an average team by if each team got 100 possessions. San Diego State’s 20.82 adjusted efficiency margin ranks 23rd in Division-I, which is just in front of their AP Poll ranking.
NET, NCAA Evaluation Tool, rankings are the official rankings used by the selection committee when seeding for March Madness.
These rankings also define how strong all wins are, separated by four quadrants, with Quadrant 1 wins or losses being stronger, while Quadrant 4 wins or losses are weaker. The quadrant wins are also adjusted to where the event is played, rewarding a road win more than a home win. How each game is deciphered by quadrant can be seen here:
The Aztecs are currently ranked 26th by the NET. Teams are hungry to beat SDSU, because it would be a Quadrant 1 win no matter the location.
In terms of quadrant records, San Diego State finds itself in a weird spot. The Aztecs missed all of their big opportunities to pick up big wins, as they are 0-3 in Quadrant 1 games – loss vs BYU & the two losses on the road against the Utah State Aggies. For Quadrant 2, the Aztecs are 4-1, with their lone loss against the Colorado State Rams. SDSU is a combined 10-0 in Quadrant 3 and 4 games.
There are a few teams of interest regarding San Diego State’s NET rankings.
The Boise State Broncos, whom the Aztecs will play twice to end the season, are currently ranked 37th in the NET. If Boise State can somehow reach 30th in the NET, the games against the Broncos will fall under Quadrant 1. If not, they will be Quadrant 2 games.
BYU is currently inside the top-30 at 25. They need to stay above 30 to keep SDSU’s loss to the Cougars in Quadrant 1. The win early in the year on the road against the Arizona State Sun Devils seemed like a monumental win at the time. However, ASU is not meeting their pre-season expectations, and that game is in danger of going to Quadrant 3 win.
A fun thing to do leading up to March Madness is to look at all of the projected brackets from some of the bracketology experts.
There are a ton of places to look at these brackets, but one place organizes them all into one. The Bracket Matrix takes all of the professional bracketologists and puts each team into the matrix, which spits out the average seeding of each team. There are no matchups on the matrix, but it is still a helpful tool.
There are currently 105 brackets in the Bracket Matrix, and the Aztecs are in all 105 brackets. San Diego State’s average seeding is 9.19, which is currently a nine-seed in the Bracket Matrix. Most seedings for SDSU are either eight, nine, or ten, but there are some sevens or lower sprinkled in there as well.
Looking at some of the more popular bracketologists, the Aztecs are comfortably in their fields of 68.
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi updated his bracket on Tuesday, and he thinks SDSU is the top nine-seed. Given the structure of March Madness this year being in one location, the top nine-seed will play the last eight-seed. Lunardi cites the LSU Tigers as the first-round opponent for San Diego State. Gonzaga is the top seed in that region.
Jerry Palm of CBS Sports is another well respected bracketologist. He is less high on the Aztecs, slotting them in as a ten-seed Michigan’s region. Palm’s projected first-round matchup for San Diego State is the Creighton Blue Jays. Palm last updated his bracket on Monday.
FOX Sports bracketologist Mike DeCourcy projects SDSU as the final eight-seed, so one spot in front of Lunardi’s projections for the Aztecs. Funny enough, his first game for SDSU is also LSU.
The Aztecs and their fans were robbed of March Madness in 2020. Despite still being in a pandemic, there will be March Madness this year, and San Diego State will be a part of it.