Representing the eighth and ninth seeds of the South Bracket the 26-8 San Diego State Aztecs take on the 21-11 St. John Red Storm. Both of these teams are coming off disappointing losses as the Red Storm were knocked out in the first round of the Big East Tournament and the Aztecs lost in the conference finals against Wyoming whom they beat twice during the regular season. This will be the sixth consecutive appearance in the tournament for the Aztecs while the Red Storm have only made it six times since 1993. San Diego State has been the more consistent team this year having not suffered back to back losses all year and have won their last 17 games after a loss. St. Johns has experienced two 3 game losing streaks this year and will be playing this matchup without their all times blocks leader Chris Obekpa who was suspended for 2 weeks for violating team rules.
The Red Storm have a potent offense that has 4 different players averaging at least 13 points per game. D’Angelo Harrison leads the team at 17.5 points per game and they are 14-2 when scoring at least 70 points. When they do not score 70 points, they are a mediocre 7-9, and will really miss Chris Obekpa and his 3 blocks per game as their defense has allowed 179 points in the last 2 games. Both Harrison and Dominic Porter were named first-team all-Big East this season and both will need to play well for St. John’s to advance.
The Aztecs made it to the Sweet 16 last year and are trying to build on that success to go even further this time. Their defense is ranked second in the nation at points allowed per game and they have limited their last 4 opponents to 48.5 points per game. San Diego doesn’t have a stand out player and win with a balanced attack led by Senior Guard Akeel Quinn who is averaging 11 points per game. They have 9 players with NCAA tournament experience and Coach Steve Fisher has coached this team to at least 20 wins per year every year since 2005-2006. This game will be played on Friday which gives the Aztecs a much needed extra day of rest as they played 3 games in 3 days leading up to the conference championship.
This game has the making of a close one as St. Johns explosive offense clashes with San Diego State’s nationally ranked defense. The Aztecs are by far the more experienced team as their players and their coaches have a large amount of Tournament experience as they have made it to the big dance each of the last 6 years. The Red Storm do not really have any NCAA experience at all as the last time they made it to the NCAA Tournament was in 2011 which means the seniors on this team were Freshman back then. This time of year the more consistent and experienced teams usually win and this case that would be San Diego State.
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