This morning I woke up to a near busted bracket in the Southwest. Thanks to some upsets by Richmond, Morehead State, Florida State and Virginia Commonwealth the only teams I have still playing are Kansas (my Final Four pick), Illinois, Purdue and Notre Dame.
And how did the high and mighty Big East do? Louisville and Georgetown, whom the experts said would be safe to advance to the Third Round and beyond, both lost.
On the positive side, I correctly picked UNLV to lose. When the Runnin’ Rebels play at home they have a huge advantage, and when they hung tough against San Diego State during the Mountain West Conference tournament I didn’t give them proper credit because I knew once they were away from home they would be a different team. And they were. They got stomped 73-62 by Illinois and it wasn’t as close as the final score indicates.
My father and I had a discussion last night about SDSU and he’s afraid they may not do well against Temple later this evening. I’m here to tell you the Aztecs are for real. I checked out common opponents the Aztecs and Owls had during the regular season and both teams played on the road at California, aka Cal-Berkeley. Temple lost to the Golden Bears 57-50 on November 26th. San Diego State whooped California by twenty on December 8th.
The news on the Aztecs gets better. UConn had to rely on Kemba Walker’s second-half heroics to defeat Wichita State 83-79 in the first round of the Maui Invitational. SDSU ran past the Shockers 83-69 at home on December 5th in the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge after taking over the lead for good early in the second half.
If the Aztecs end up playing Cincinnati in the Sweet Sixteen, they also have a common opponent in Miami (Ohio). SDSU played them on the road and whooped them 77-56 in the CBE Classic on November 22nd. Cincinnati also defeated Miami (Ohio) on the road 64-48 on December 21st.
While Temple, UConn and Cincinnati are good teams, the Aztecs shouldn’t be worried. They can beat these guys if they get over their NCAA tournament jitters like they did against Northern Colorado.
What about Duke in the Elite Eight? They also stomped on Miami (Ohio) 79-45 early in the season but they also have blemishes on their schedule with losses against Florida State, St. John’s, Virginia Tech and North Carolina during the regular season. It would be an intriguing matchup, but it’s one that would open the country’s eyes and let them see San Diego State as at least an equal to the best teams in the East. And if Duke stumbles on its way to the Elite Eight, I like the Aztecs’ chances to advance to the Final Four even more. Arizona got Jimmered big time and Texas wasn’t the most consistent team against middle of the road competition down the stretch.