San Diego State has been red-hot in the past month and a half. The Aztecs have won 11 straight games while averaging a margin of victory of +21.5 points during the win streak. Starting Sunday, San Diego State can shift their focus to the NCAA Tournament. Ranked 19th in Kenpom’s rankings, the Aztecs look to smash brackets in the month of March.
San Diego State, ranked eighth in defensive efficiency, is one of the premier defenses in college basketball. The Aztecs’ stifling defense holds opponents to 60.9 points per contest, which is sixth in the country. Also, opposing foes shoot only 39.3% against the Aztecs. Due to low shooting percentage, San Diego State is fifth in the country with 20.7 opponent field goals allowed per game.
Not only do the Aztecs cause offensive shooting troubles, they also force turnovers in droves. San Diego State is 19th in forcing a turnover on 20.1% of opponent plays,. Also, foes average 15.3 turnovers per game against the Aztecs. Most turnovers occur due to Aztec steals. Ranked 13th, San Diego State’s steal percentage is 10.7%. In addition, the Aztecs pick up 8.1 steals per contest.
Senior leaders are the driving force on the San Diego State roster. The Aztecs are sound in fundamental stat categories due to effort and experience. For example, they are 24th with a defensive rebounding percentage of 78.7%. Three of the four leading scorers for San Diego State are seniors.
Terrell Gomez is a senior point guard that is a knockdown shooter. He averages 8.3 points while shooting 43.5% from three. Also, Gomez averages 2.4 assists and 0.9 steals.
Another senior leader is Jordan Schakel. The 6-foot-6 guard is the second leading scorer with 14.4 points per game while shooting 47.2%. Schakel’s dangerous trait is his three point shooting, he shoots at a clip of 46.4% from three. Led by Gomez and Schakel’s three point shooting, the Aztecs are 20th shooting 38.0% from three.
The lead scorer is Matt Mitchell, a 6-foot-6 senior forward. Mitchell totals 15.4 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. The senior forward shoots 44.7% from the floor and 38% from three. In addition, Mitchell currently sits six on the all-time Aztec scoring list.
The leaders of San Diego State are used to winning after going 20-4 this season and finishing 30-2 in the 2019-20 season. In win percentage in the past two seasons, the Aztecs find themselves among elite company. The seniors at San Diego State are winners and are hungry for success in the NCAA Tournament.
Highest winning percentage in college basketball since the start of the '19-20 season:
.965 — Gonzaga (55-2)
.900 — Baylor (45-5)
.893 — San Diego State (50-6)
— Heat Check CBB (@HeatCheckCBB) March 4, 2021
Considering where San Diego State ranks in national polls, their seeding is somewhat low. The Aztecs are mostly seen as a No.7 seed right now, but some project them as an eight or nine. Either way, San Diego State is 19th in Kenpom, 19th in the AP Poll and 10th in CBS Power Rankings. Any one or two seed will be unhappy to see an Aztec matchup looming in the Round of 32.
San Diego State is dangerous primarily due to their stingy defense and veteran leadership. The Aztecs are a trendy pick to go deep into the NCAA Tournament. Assuming they stay on the 7-9 seed line, their matchup in the Round of 32 is key. If it is a favorable matchup, they have a decent shot to make a Sweet 16 or even an Elite 8. Of course defeating any one or two seed in the Round of 32 would be an extremely tall task. However, San Diego State has the potential to pull off this type of upset considering their deep-rooted winning culture.
All stats courtesy of ESPN, Kenpom and Team Rankings.