SDSU To Start NCAA March Madness Against Syracuse Friday
The No. 16 San Diego State's men's basketball team is returning to the "Big Dance" for the first time since 2018 and facing off against Syracuse.
SDSU's run in the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship tournament starts 6:40 p.m. Friday and will be broadcast on CBS.
The Aztecs are the No. 6 seed in the Midwest region and they're going into the tournament riding a hot streak. They're currently one of the best performing teams in the nation, having won their last 14 games. Friday they play against the 11th-seed Syracuse Orange in their first game of March Madness.
The 2021 tournament takes place in and around Indianapolis, Indiana with SDSU’s first game at Butler University's Hinkle Fieldhouse.
SDSU coach Brian Dutcher said this year means a lot for his Aztecs team who were highly touted as a potential one-seed for the tournament in 2020, but never got to play due to COVID-19.
“We feel awful for that team that didn't go last year," he said. "But the guys that returned from last year’s team, we take great pleasure that we could fight our way back into the field again this year.”
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In 2018, San Diego State was eliminated in the first round against Houston, but fans such as SDSU student Shawn Ruderman are hopeful this time around.
“It’s just awesome because it gives the students and alumni all something to root for,” said Ruderman. “I think if they just shoot like they have been of recent and play the defense that they always do, I think they match up well against Syracuse, West Virginia, Houston — whoever is playing at the bottom of that Midwest region."
San Diego State met Syracuse twice in program history, with losses in both games. But Dutcher said they are ready for the challenge of their opponents famed zone defense.
“Even though it's a zone, it's not the same zone all the time. So we’ve prepared a couple different ways to attack it, I think we have some good ideas. But with that being said, once you step on the floor that's a whole other story.”
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The Aztecs finished the regular season and conference tournament with a 23-4 overall record and the team has made eight of the last 11 NCAA Tournaments, with Sweet 16 appearances in 2011 and 2014.
If SDSU advances to the second round, its next game would be on Sunday, March 21.