As we all know, upsets are bound to happen in the NCAA Tournament, and one team that needs to be on upset-alert this year is the San Diego State Aztecs, the four seed in the West Region who will take on the New Mexico State Aggies in the first round of the tournament.
New Mexico State has a lot of qualities found in teams that pull off first-round tournament upsets. For starters, they played a tough schedule that has them prepared to player a legitimate contender like San Diego State. The Aggies challenged themselves this season with games against tournament teams like Arizona, Gonzaga, and two games against New Mexico, so they won’t be intimidated by playing San Diego State on the big stage.
The Aggies also have a highly efficient offense, making 49 percent of their field goals and scoring 77 points per game. They have four players that average 10 or more points per game, so they’re a balanced team that’s not dependent on one individual player, which will enable them to keep pace with the Aztecs and stay competitive, giving them a chance to win the game.
New Mexico State is also a veteran team, with six of their seven leading scorers being either juniors or seniors. That is especially important considering the fact that the Aggies have been to the NCAA Tournament each of the past two seasons. Small conference teams reaching The Big Dance for three consecutive seasons generally do well, especially when they’re loaded with veteran players the way New Mexico State is this year. For instance, both Davidson in 2008 and Cornell in 2010 advanced to the second weekend of the tournament when in a similar position.
San Diego State has accomplished a great deal this season, and they have a legitimate chance of playing deep into the NCAA Tournament. But they need to take New Mexico State seriously, because the Aggies are the kind of team that can pull a first round upset; as we all know, it’s been done before.
Bryan Zarpentine is a New York Mets writer at RantSports.com. He also writes frequently about the NFL, College Football, College Basketball, and International Soccer. Like him on Facebook, follow him on twitter @BZarp and add him on Google.