Teams: Syracuse Orange (16-9, 9-7) vs. San Diego State Aztecs (23-4, 14-3)
Day & Time: Friday, March 19, 9:40 p.m. ET
Location: Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Ind.
Line: San Diego State -3
TV/Streaming: CBS, NCAA.com
San Diego State Blog: Mountain West Wire
Rivalry: 2-0, Syracuse
Current Streak: 2, Syracuse
First Meeting: A NIT record 26,752 people were in attendance at the Carrier Dome on March 19, 2007 for the first ever matchup between Syracuse and San Diego State. Demetris Nichols scored 20 points while Andy Rautins would add 15 points to give the Orange an 80-64 win over the Aztecs in the second round of the tournament. Syracuse would lose in the next round of the NIT to Clemson, the eventual runner-ups of the tournament.
Last Meeting: Let Syracuse’s last game against San Diego State remind you that it is hard to shoot a basketball on a boat. The Orange and Aztecs opened up their 2011-12 seasons on the deck of the USS Midway on November 11, 2011. Wind played a big factor as San Diego State shot 1-of-18 from three. C.J. Fair and Michael Carter-Williams had a better time, scoring 17 points each to lead Syracuse to a 62-49 victory.
Head Coaches: Syracuse - Jim Boeheim (45th year, 1,081-408) | San Diego State - Brian Dutcher (fourth season, 96-30)
Coach Bio: Dutcher didn’t play collegiate basketball, but his father, Jim Dutcher, was head coach of Minnesota’s program while he was attending college there. Dutcher got his first taste of coaching as a graduate assistant at Illinois before joining South Dakota State as an assistant. He then moved in 1989 to Michigan as an assistant under Steve Fisher.
Dutcher is credited with playing a big role in recruiting the “Fab Five” class for Michigan in 1991. That group of players went on to appear in two NCAA championship games. Dutcher would be later promoted to associate head coach under Fisher. The two would then move to San Diego State in 1997, holding the same positions. Dutcher is also credited with a key role in bringing two-time NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard to San Diego State. Dutcher was named “head coach in waiting” at San Diego State with Fisher’s career winding down in 2011.
Fisher retired after the 2017 season, and Dutcher subsequently became the Aztecs’ head coach the following season. San Diego State won the MWC tournament in his first season as head coach and automatically qualified for the NCAA tournament. The Aztecs would lose in the first round to Houston, but San Diego State has won at least 20 games in Dutcher’s four years as head coach.
Last Year: San Diego State took the nation by storm last year by winning 26 straight games to start the season. The Aztecs rose to number four in the rankings before suffering an upset loss to UNLV at home. Despite the loss, San Diego State stayed at No. 5 in the rankings and entered the MWC tournament with a 28-1 record. The Aztecs easily made the finals but suffered another upset loss, this time to Utah State in the championship game. San Diego State wouldn’t get a chance to play in the NCAA tournament due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Last Game: The Aztecs got their revenge against Utah State by defeating the Aggies this time in the MWC championship game to win the conference title. San Diego State held Utah State to 37.3% field-goal shooting and 23.1% three-point shooting to secure the win. The Aztecs also dominated the turnover battle with a plus-7 turnover margin.
“Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: Matt Mitchell and Jordan Schakel are the cogs that make San Diego State run. Each player scores over 14 points per game and grabs over four rebounds per game. Schakel is the leading Aztec three point shooter with a 46.7 percentage from beyond the arc, while Mitchell is tied for the team lead in steals with 36 on the season.
If Syracuse Wins: Sean finishes the first draft of the third apology letter.
If Syracuse Loses: We accept that Louisville probably should’ve taken our spot in the tournament to lose in the first round also.
Fun Fact: This will be Jim Boeheim’s 35th NCAA tournament appearance as head coach of the Orange. He became the first head coach to make the NCAA tournament in six different decades.
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