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Air Force Shocks San Diego State, Resume Gets Even Stronger

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Steve Mitchell-USA Today Sports

Well consider this, another unranked Mountain West squad picked up a crucial, resume-building win and evened the playing field within the league even more.

Let’s be serious, that fact is basically becoming the common theme for the MWC this season and on Saturday afternoon, things were no different. This time the spotlight shone bright for an emerging Air Force squad whose victory on Saturday was their fifth in a row. After an 0-2 start within the conference, the Falcons are rolling and there’s no better resume-building victory than the one they achieved in their first game of February.

Despite a 25-point, 10-rebound performance from all-Mountain West performer Jamaal Franklin, Air Force survived San Diego State and moved to 14-6 overall and 5-2 within the conference. Surely, that’s a mark and a victory that deserves some credit and hype moving forward.

Are the Falcons a legitimate threat as a candidate for an at-large bid? Right now, the answer is yes.

There is still plenty of basketball still to be played, including a return trip to San Diego State for these Falcons on Mar. 6. However, Air Force’s five consecutive wins are enough to warrant the attention that they have earned. Michael Lyons paced the Falcons with 20 points in their biggest win of the season to date and believe it or not, it’s Air Force who actually holds a one-game edge on SDSU in the conference standings.

The Falcons face a pivotal two-game road stand next week as they must travel to New Mexico and Nevada. The hype is at one of its highest moments in program history for the time being and that’s a situation that is well deserved.

The victory over No. 22 San Diego State on Saturday moved the Falcons’ all-time mark against ranked teams up to a whopping 3-78. Ironically enough, their last two wins against ranked opponents have come at home against San Diego State. Deja vu was a theme for Air Force on Saturday, but this time it may be jump starting a bandwagon run towards March.

 

Follow Paul Seaver on Twitter: @PaulSeaverRS

 

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NCAA Tournament Profile: San Diego State Aztecs

Record: 26-8

RPI: 26

BPI: 42

Conference: Mountain West Conference

How They Qualified: At-Large Berth

Region: No. 8 in the South

 

Another year in the Mountain West, and yet another year the San Diego State Aztecs were one of the conference’s top teams (tied for first place with the Boise State Broncos in the regular season conference standings).

The MW hasn’t been getting a whole lot of love this year, but this isn’t San Diego State’s first rodeo — not even close. In fact, most fans probably expect the Aztecs to make the tournament on a yearly basis now.

 

What You Need to Know:

Leading Scorer: Aqeel Quinn, Winston Shepard (11.1 PPG)

Leading Rebounder: Winston Shepard (5.3 RPG)

Leading Passer: J.J. O’Brien (2.5 APG)

Bad Losses: Fresno State, Washington

Good Wins: Utah, BYU, Pittsburgh, Wyoming (twice), Colorado State (twice)

 

Needless to say, the Aztecs challenged themselves this season, and got a huge win over Utah. They also played the Arizona Wildcats (only lost by two points) and Cincinnati Bearcats (lost in overtime). Both teams are also part of the field of 68.

Yeah, San Diego State certainly didn’t have an easy non-conference schedule, but that should only benefit it in the dance, a tournament that features an endless amount of talent and a boatload of teams with different playing styles.

The Aztecs made it to the Sweet 16 last season, but that team also had Xavier Thames. The NCAA tournament can be a weird beast, though, so it will be interesting to see if this version of San Diego State can go on a deeper run.

The San Diego State Aztecs are dancing!

Trevor Lowry is a Content Associate at RantSports.com. If you’re a tweeter feel free to follow him @TheTrevorLowry, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

The San Diego State Aztecs will be making yet another appearance in the NCAA tournament.

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