San Diego State will be one of the new bullies of March Madness this year; the Aztecs enter the NCAA Tournament with just three losses, and all of them have come against their Mountain West archrivals BYU. That's a credit to Steve Fisher's bunch, which has played hard all year and made the most of a crop of major talent at its mid-major station, and is good enough to make the Final Four if the NCAA Tournament bracket breaks its way. For this crew, the Sweet Sixteen is probably the least it can do.
Record: 29-2, 14-2 in the Mountain West
Key wins: The Aztecs' 79-76 win at Gonzaga on Nov. 16 was the signal that they might be good; wins over UNLV — 55-49 at home on on Jan. 12 and 63-57 in Las Vegas on Feb. 12 — proved San Diego State could take care of the second-biggest obstacle in the Mountain West.
Key losses: San Diego State has lost twice to BYU: the 71-58 loss in Provo dashed dreams of an undefeated season, while the 80-67 defeat in San Diego gave BYU the inside track to the Mountain West regular season championship both teams ended up sharing. It's worth noting both of these losses came before BYU forward Brandon Davies' suspension.
Player to watch: Kawhi Leonard makes San Diego State go, and his talent has lifted the Aztecs all season and made him a lottery prospect in the 2011 NBA Draft. He's got good size for a small forward (6-foot-7, 225 pounds) but can rebound with the best (10th nationally in Defensive Rebound Percentage) and handle the ball exceptionally well with his large hands. He's not the best shooter, but neither is the rest of his team: San Diego State shoots under 33 percent from three-point territory, one of the lowest numbers of any NCAA Tournament team.
San Diego State profile by Andy Hutchins of SBNation.com. Click here for a downloadable printable 2011 NCAA Tournament bracket.
For more on San Diego State, please visit our Mountain West Conference blog, Mountain West Connection.