Aztec Men's Basketball Team Must Win In Vegas To Go To Big Dance
This is KPBS Midday Edition I Maureen Cavanaugh. It's March and the men's Astec basketball team want to be a part of the madness. The top CSX are playing the Utah State Aggies as we speak in the Mountain West tournament in Las Vegas. I spoke with mighty 1090 sports columnist Jay Paris before tipoff to find out what's at stake in this game. Hi Jay and thanks for doing this. No problem. The aspects big game is against Utah State University today. What is the aspects history consisting? They've done quite well since you tell states joined the Mountain West they have never been San Diego State -- San Diego State of the 63 edge over all but there is little contention among the two. The Aztecs beat them up in Logan by three points when there was a very controversial call at the end of the game this year. They had a little easier time beating them by 15. Utah states is the ninth seed in the tournament. Sandy SA is a topsy but it's sports. This is a quarterfinal game? Yes it will be a quarterfinal. The aspects have to win three games here over the next three days to guarantee their berth in the NCAA tournament. We are kind of working without a safety net here unlike years in the past where even if they didn't win the Mountain West tournament there body of work that was such that they could go ahead and get a large bit into the NCAA tournament. That's not the case this year. Why is it not the case? What you did before the conference place start is you get some big wins early on and they did that. They beat the University of California which is a pack 12 dream which is an impressive win. They lost through the University of San Diego which is really down this year and they lost to a school called Grand Canyon University as well. Those two losses were huge on the Aztecs record. Sometimes when you play in these strong conference you can make up for that by winning your conference and dominating which San Diego stated winning the conference by three games but the Mountain West conference was really down this year. Those wins in the conference didn't quite neutralize those critical losses early on. Jay, why is there trouble within the Mountain West conference? What is going on they used to send several teams to the NCAA tournament and also much this year. It's typical. Some conferences are up in summer down. It goes round and round. I think when you peel back the onion a little bit it gets back to football. The Mountain West conference is in one of the so-called power five football conferences and if you're not a power five the bow conference that the goal pie of money isn't quite as big. When you start dividing it between the different sports and your different athletics on school campuses. There's just not enough to go around but not as much go around. With many comes a higher pay coaches and with many comes better facilities. As the football impact in the Mountain West is diminished its leaked over to the basketball program as well because there's just not as many funds in that. That's interesting. How would you describe asked men's team this season? It's been a bit of an up-and-down. Was a hit conference a role. That an 11 game winning streak and they -- it was one of the biggest margins in the nation. The team really is playing its best basketball right now which is a cut used to say we need your best when we need it. They need it now. Their last two games they beat New Mexico by 27 points. Worst home loss for New Mexico since 2002. They finished that up with their last conference game on senior night annihilating UNLV by 36 points. That was the worst lost since 2000. This team always to play defense and rebound well and is also play will often simply. It's starting to click and this is the best time for it to be clicking. So you think they will make it to the dance? I think they certainly have a shot. You also have the motivation of two key seniors Winston Shepard and Skyler Spencer. This could be their last game so that is going to be a motivator. They dominated the conference all year long. They will hold on three more days and we will find out. We are hoping a lot goes on in Vegas. We hope they get invited next week as well. Jay Paris, thanks a lot.
The San Diego State University men's basketball team takes on Utah State University today at noon in the quarterfinals of the Mountain West tournament. USU hasn't beat the top-seed Aztecs since the Aggies joined the Mountain West division.
The Aztecs must win three games in the tournament to guarantee a place in the NCAA tournament which begins March 15.
"Unlike years past where even when they didn't win the Mountain West tournament, their body of work was such that they could go ahead and get an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. That's not quite the case this year," said Jay Paris, sports columnist for the Mighty 1090.
Paris discusses the Aztecs' prospects Thursday on Midday Edition.