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San Diego State Is Not a Top 25 Team

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Christopher Hanewinckel-USATODAY Sports

San Diego State went from having zero votes in the AP Top 25 poll two weeks ago, to being 24th in the country after winning the Wooden Legacy Tournament during the Thanksgiving break. The “big” wins that allowed SDSU to go from not even being on the radar of the top 25, to being in the top 25 were over Marquette and Creighton, two teams that are no longer ranked after losing to SDSU. This made me skeptical of the top 25 ranking for the Aztecs, but after watching them Thursday night I am no longer skeptical, I am certain that they are not a top 25 team.

SDSU hung on to win 65-64 over the University of San Diego, but this game should not have even been close. San Diego is not a good basketball team. Going into Thursday’s game the Toreros had only played one team inside the RPI 150, New Mexico, and outside of New Mexico the next highest ranked team USD had played was 186th ranked South Dakota State. USD was 7-2 heading in, but who had they beaten? Like I said, this is not a good team. The Aztecs should have mopped the floor with USD, but that is not what happened.

The Aztecs were never in any real danger until the very end, when Xavier Thames was tied up by Christopher Anderson, giving the Toreros a chance to win the game with 3.3 second left. Other than that SDSU was leading the entire game, but they could never put USD away. Thames has an eight inch height advantage and 45 pound weight advantage over Anderson, he should have been able to bully Anderson all game long. Instead, Thames went 4-11 from the field, he did get to the line 10 times, but there were countless missed close-range shots.

Thames wasn’t the only problem for the Aztecs, as a team SDSU shot 36.2 percent from the field. SDSU ranks 103rd in field goal percentage in the NCAA. Normally when a good team has a low shooting percentage it is because they shoot a lot of three’s. That is not the case with SDSU, the Aztecs do not shoot a lot of three’s. Going into their matchup with USD, the Aztecs were 337th out 351 NCAA teams in three’s attempted. The fact that they make a good amount of their three’s, 45.2 percent, doesn’t matter because they don’t shoot them, and their two-point percentage is 253rd in the country. This team cannot shoot, and when they play against a team that can shoot, they will be in trouble.

They slid by USD, and were lucky to play an overrated Marquette team that is even worse than SDSU at shooting, and a Creighton team that was athletically outmatched and forced to foul. In the win over Creighton, SDSU shot 31 free throws. There wins over Marquette and Creighton were not lucky, but they were good matchups for the Aztecs, and they took advantage. Against team with like size the Aztecs will be in trouble.

From what I have seen so far this team is not a top 25 team. They have one player with noticeable talent, Thames, and a few role players. But, Thames is not a dominant player, and you will not win too many games needing role players to play over their skill level. SDSU was predicted to finish fourth in the Mountain West in the preseason polls. After their hot start with two “big” wins, most consider them to be better, but I am here to tell you that this team is who we thought they were. Don’t be fooled by their “big” wins over teams they matched up well against. The Aztecs are a fringe NCAA Tournament team, not a fringe top 25 team.

 

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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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