NCAA Bracket 2011 Predictions: San Diego State Round-by-Round
Despite their overall record of 32-2 and the fact that they won the Mountain West conference tournament, the San Diego State Aztecs are going overlooked in the big dance.
Coach Steve Fisher once again has NBA talent on his team, and it has earned its No. 2 seeding in the West region of the bracket.
So Aztec fans, can your team pull the mid-major Cinderella run (even though it's a high seed) and make the Final Four?
Well, mid-major history is on its side, as three mid-majors have run deep to the Final Four since 2006 (George Mason 2006, Memphis 2008 and Butler 2010).
The madness has begun, and here's a look at what the Aztecs must go through to prove the critics wrong. Check it out.
Round 1: Northern Colorado Bears
The Northern Colorado Bears run deep with eight players receiving playing time in over 25 of their 31 games.
Offensively, premier scorer Devon Beitzel averages over 21 points per game while shooting 48 percent from the field.
However, they are reluctant to dish the ball around, therefore limiting their opportunities.
Defensively, they allow an average of 75 points in their 10 losses but only 60 points in 21 wins.
Look for San Diego State to key in on Beitzel on defense and use its athleticism on offense to dominate inside and out.
PREDICTION: San Diego State 80, Northern Colorado 60
Round 2: Penn State Nittany Lions
With their run in the Big Ten tournament, the Penn State Nittany Lions have the ability to upset the Temple Owls in Round 1.
Thus, the potential second-round matchup between the Lions and the Aztecs.
With the ball, Penn State struggles to score, averaging only 63 points per game.
Also, the Nittany Lions are not rather deep since only six players have played in over 30 games.
However, they do have two freshmen in Billy Oliver and Jermaine Marshall gaining experience.
On defense, Penn State only allows 62 points per game, which ranks it fourth in the Big Ten.
Not bad for being in a conference with the likes of Wisconsin and Purdue, who focus on defense as well.
In any event, however, San Diego State has a much better offense and is just as good (if not better) defensively.
PREDICTION: San Diego State 73, Penn State 61
Sweet 16: Connecticut Huskies
In addition to the stellar play of Kemba Walker, UConn runs very deep with 10 of its 13 players receiving time in over 33 of its games (eight have played in all 35).
Well, the Huskies are rather young with only three seniors and six freshmen (not to mention three sophomores).
Also, they allow 66 points per game, ranking them 125th in the country.
Now, although 66 may not seem like a lot, having a one-dimensional offense in Kemba Walker leaves them vulnerable.
As for the Aztecs, they need to zero in on Walker while maintaining their offensive consistency.
PREDICTION: San Diego State 70, Connecticut 62
Elite Eight: Duke Blue Devils
The defending national champions versus the mid-major underdog.
Sort of deja vu from last year's national championship, and it has the potential to be a great game.
Once we get to this point in the season, there's a good chance that Duke could have Kyrie Irving back.
Also, don't let its youth fool you since it has outstanding senior leadership in Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith.
San Diego State, however, can counter this with its NBA talent of sophomore Kawhi Leonard and seniors D.J. Gay, Billy White and Malcolm Thomas.
One other aspect is that Duke has yet to face a defense like San Diego State, which could be a major factor early in the game.
The difference here is that the Aztecs feel under-appreciated in the world of college basketball, while the Blue Devils remain atop the pedestal.
Not to mention the regional part of the bracket takes place in Anaheim, California.
PREDICTION: San Diego State 73, Duke 71
Final Four: Ohio State Buckeyes
The overall No. 1 seed in the tournament and one of the few schools to win both their regular season and conference tournament titles.
Freshman Jared Sullinger continues to dominate the paint, and seniors Jon Diebler and David Lighty provide outstanding leadership and experience.
One other thing to keep in mind is that Ohio State has not won a national championship since 1960.
Also, much like San Diego State, Ohio State plays extremely well on defense and offense.
The significant differential here is that the Buckeyes are just as deep and have NBA talent but also are more versatile on both ends of the court.
Sorry, Aztec fans—the buck stops here.
PREDICTION: Ohio State 72, San Diego State 67
FINAL RECORD: 36-3