It is time for March Madness and your San Diego State Aztecs are once again in the big dance. SDSU (23-8, 13-4) was selected as the 8th seed and will play the 9th seed Creighton Blue Jays (22-11, 12-7) in Fort Worth, TX on March 17th. SDSU has played Creighton 6 times with a record of 3-3 vs the Blue Jays, with the Aztecs winning the last 2 match-ups.
The Aztecs will be bringing the nation’s 2nd best defense to the tournament, giving up an average 57.7 ppg. Nathan Mensah, a 6’10 forward, has been a big part in SDSU’s defense. Mensah averages 7.1 rpg and has blocked 69 shots this season which leads the Mountain West. Lamont Butler averages 1.8 Steals a game, 2nd in the Mountain West. The Aztecs struggles have come on an offense that averages 65.3 ppg, 307th in the country. The Aztecs’ leading scorer is Matt Bradley, averaging 17.0 ppg, 9th in the Mountain West. The next closest is Trey Pulliam, who only has 8.5 ppg. In the Mountain West championship final, the offensive struggles showed as SDSU’s defense held the Boise State offense to 53 pts and gave the Aztecs a chance to win in the final seconds. The Aztecs offense could not put a play together, missing a desperation shot at the end to fall 52-53 in the conference final.
San Diego State went 2-2 vs ranked opponents, both wins vs Colorado St., including handing the 11-0 Rams their first loss of the season by a score of 79-49. SDSU won 12 of their last 15 games, with the 3 losses all coming by 1pt, with two of those vs Boise State including the Mountain West tournament final.
Creighton’s defense ranks 79th in the nation, giving up an average of 65.9 ppg. their offense ranks 224th with 69.0 ppg. Creighton’s leading scorer is Ryan Hawkins, a 6’7 forward who has scored 13.9 ppg, and grabbed 7.8 rpg, which ranked 5th in the Big East. Hawkins also averages 2.3 3-pointers ppg, 4th in the Big East. His teammate Ryan Kalkbrenner, a 7’1 center, blocked 89 shots during the season, 2nd in the Big East, while grabbing 7.6 rpg and scoring 13.0 ppg on a 64.6 fg%.
The Blue Jays battled well against tough opponents, going 5-6 vs ranked teams. They defeated Villanova 79-59 in their first meeting of the season, but then fell 41-75 the 2nd meeting, and 48-54 in the Big East Tournament Final. The Blue Jays lost to 11th ranked Providence 72-51 in the regular season, but then won handedly 85-58 over the 1 seed Friars in the Big East Tournament semi-final.
The Aztecs defense will more than likely show up, it’s all going to depend on if they can get the offense going. They have shown they can stay in games and win the close ones. Now it is time to take the next step toward being a champion and score points and not allow the game to be close in the end. If San Diego State does win, they will more than likely play the 1 seed Kansas, who SDSU is 1-1 against all-time.