San Diego State University (4 Seed, West Bracket)
Record: 29-4 (16-2 in MWC)
Coach: Steve Fisher
Tournament Berth: At Large Bid
Big Wins: Kansas, Creighton, Marquette
Big Losses: New Mexico twice and Arizona
San Diego State is starting to feel like the team that under-achieved. Going in to the Mountain West Tournament tournament the Aztecs looked like a lock for a top four seed in the NCAA tournament and that is probably where they will land. As the season wore on though the Aztecs kept looking like a team that was not quite ready. For some teams, the longer the season goes, the more you get exposed.
San Diego State knows better than anyone there is no shame in losing to New Mexico. Even if it happens twice. But a certain reality sets in after a narrow victory and a couple of losses to your biggest conference rival. San Diego State is not as good as New Mexico is right now. With that realization comes the knowledge that Fisher and his team fashion themselves when the season began. This smells like a team that did not learn their lesson last year against Florida Gulf Coast.
The Aztecs are talented and they know it. Maybe they are a product of over hyped expectations or maybe they are a product of a bad conference. Either way San Diego State needs a reality check soon if they are going to meet the lofty goals they set before the season started.
C – Josh Davis
F – Winston Shepard
F – JJ O’Brien
G – Xavier Thames
G – Ageel Quinn
Who’s Hot: Xavier Thames, Mountain West Player of the year. Thames is the real deal and everything a coach could want in a college basketball player. If Fisher had four more of Thames, then Diego State would be sitting on a No. 1 seed.
Who’s Not: Winston Shepard. The talented sophomore is just not reliable enough for the Aztecs to count on him. If Shepard is at his best for the next couple weeks then the Aztecs are in the Final Four. The Aztecs need Shepard to be at his best to make a deep run in the tournament, but he is just not ready for that. Fisher knows this, but at this point the Aztec head coach does not have a choice.
Outlook: San Diego State has a good team, just not quite as they had hoped when the season began. The Aztecs are also not the same team they were when the season began. That happens to a lot of teams and it is happening to San Diego State right now. Once again, if Shepard pulls it together then all bets are off because the Aztecs could go a long way under that scenario. It is just not a likely to happen.
Commentary by Mick Varner