SAN DIEGO, CA - FEBRUARY 26: Billy White #32 and D.J. Gay #23 of the San Diego State Aztecs catch their breath during the second half against Brigham Young Cougars at Cox Arena on February 26, 2011 in San Diego, California. BYU beat SDSU 80-67. (Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images)
What was that I said about March's Madness last time? It seems that what everyone was expecting of the MWC Championship game, a BYU- SDSU rematch, is going to happen after all. Not so mad. And you know what? I love that it's going to happen. Yes, it is a harder matchup. Yes, it is hard to beat a good team three times in a season. And yes, we are without an integral part of our team this time around. But if we beat the Aztecs, or even put in a good showing, it'll show the world that we're not gone. The BYU Cougars are still a great team, and we're here to win it all.
Who are the San Diego State Aztecs? The Aztecs at a top 10 team in the country vying for a 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament and boasting NBA talent on their roster, including a possible lottery pick. Yup, they're that good; maybe even better than that. They only have two losses on the season, and both came from another team in the top 10. (Hmm... I wonder who that was?) No matter who it was that beat them, they are still tied for the best record in the country at 31-2. The Aztecs also boast a 3 RPI, a 5 Sagarin, and an 8 kenpom ranking. All of those are above our Cougs, if only by one or two.
The Aztecs love to play down low. They have arguably the best front court in the country that loves to get physical. All their front court starters average at least 9.6 points and two averages at least 8 rebounds. But they also have a pretty good backcourt. In fact, their team leader is their starting point guard. So even though their front court should get the majority of attention, you can't forget about their backcourt.
Who to watch out for? This question is tough. Not because there aren't many players to watch out for, but because there are so many player to watch out for. Like I said above their whole front court is amazing, starting with Kawhi Leonard. The 6-7 forward Leonard is their best player and a possible lottery pick. He's a beast in the paint and an extremely gifted rebounder with huge hands (seriously). He leads the team in points and rebounds averaging 10.8 rpg to go along with 15.3 ppg. He also shoots a respectable 75.2% from the line. He doesn't have great shooting numbers, 43.7% from the field and 26% from three, but he gets the job done.
Leonard isn't their only inside presence though, there's also Malcolm Thomas, their starting center. He averages 11.6 ppg, tied for second on the team, on 54.7% shooting from the field, 8.3 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks a game. He's also their best interior defender.
And the final player to watch out for in their front court is Billy White. White is often overlooked but his contribution is undeniable. His numbers won't pop out at anyone, 9.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg, and 72.5% free throw percentage. Although he does shoot an unbelievable 56.6% from the field and a respectable 33.3% from three point land. But his main contribution is as a leader and glue guy.
Possibly most important player on their team is DJ Gay. The Aztecs starting point guard and second leading scorer-along with Thomas-is the team's unquestioned leader. He's also one of their best three point shooter at 36.4% but only shoots 39.1% from behind the arc. He's also their best perimeter defender and will probably be put on Jimmer for a portion of the game.
Other facts of note: On ESPN's College Gameday Hubert Davis and Digger Phelps picked BYU over SDSU. Jay Bilas picked SDSU. Dave Rose coached his 200th game yesterday and now has the 3rd best winning percentage among active coaches at 157-43 for 78.5%. Roy Williams is first and Mark Few is second. BYU has beaten SDSU four straight games and 8 of their past 9.
PS: Sorry this is out so late, my internet went haywire on me.