San Diego State is not exactly a basketball hot bed, but with March Madness descending on the sports world it might bed time to take a look at the Aztecs. San Diego State is exactly the type of team that a glass slipper would slide on to perfectly.
The NCAA tournament starts next week and the San Diego State is on a roll winning six in a row and posting a 29-3 record this season. San Diego State won the Mountain West Conference with a veteran team and a coach in Steve Fisher who already has an NCAA title under his belt from his days at Michigan.
Fisher has built a winning program at San Diego State with a squad this year that fits the profile of a team that can make a deep run in March. They are a well coached, talented and veteran team with great guard play and experience in the tournament. The leader on the floor is Mountain West Player of the Year, point guard Xavier Thames who leads the team in points, assists and three-point percentage.
The Aztecs can be streaky from the field but generally shoot well beyond the three-point arc, another factor in trying to find a team that can win a few games in the NCAA tournament. They also play tough defense and boast a young but talented bench led by sixth man Dwayne Polee II who receives starter minutes and makes the most of them.
As San Diego State prepares to see if the glass slipper will fit this year there are a couple other factors to consider. Though the Mountain West has been down outside of the Aztecs and New Mexico, Fisher’s team has played four ranked teams going 3-1 with two wins over Creighton and Marquette in the John Wooden tournament Thanksgiving weekend. They also scored an impressive road win in Lawrence, Kansas against the Jayhawks. The only loss they suffered to a ranked opponent was at home against Arizona, a team that will likely draw a No. 1 seed.
Another factor trending in the Aztecs favor is the experience they have gained under Fisher, particularly last year when the they won their opening game before falling to last year’s Cinderella team, Florida Gulf Coast. San Diego State was a big favorite in that game and Florida Gulf Coast gave them an invaluable lesson as they enter the 2014 tournament. Do not underestimate anyone.
San Diego State was a No. 7 seed last year and will likely be in the top four seeds of some bracket, preferably out west. A team seeded that high may not be a prototypical Cinderella story. Keep in mind the Aztecs have never made it past the Sweet Sixteen and had only made the NCAA tournament three times in school history.
Fisher and his San Diego State squad are preparing for a March run that is befitting of a glass slipper. They have waited an entire year for this and expect a snug fit.
Commentary by Mick Varner