The Show

For the 6th time this season, the San Diego State Aztecs will play the most important game in the history of their program. That’s a lot of pressure for kids in their twenties.

Ninety years after the program began under the watchful eye of C.E. Peterson, (the Aztecs first and most successful coach in program history) San Diego State looks for its third straight NCAA tournament win on Thursday night against Connecticut. They won their first a week ago.

“It’s been a wonderful, wonderful journey that we’ve had,” current head coach Steve Fisher said on Wednesday afternoon. “I knew we were going to have a good team. I didn’t know how good we would be.”

In many ways, he still doesn’t.

Fisher’s been to the Senior Prom before with powerhouse Michigan teams and placid Aztec squads. This team feels different. Fisher won the NCAA title in 1989 as a head coach for only six games in the ultimate bonus round. In 2011, he might get a chance to experience the full ride.

San Diego State doesn’t have the star power of a Jimmer on its team and many folks with the Aztecs in the office pool still refer to them as “San Diego.” These guys aren’t Toreros, they are Aztecs.

Take a glance at any box score and the numbers don’t really pop out at you. Kawhi Leonard, the leading scorer, averages just under 16 points per game.  He also wins the blue ribbon for most rebounds for San Diego State.  Such a unique combination puts the Aztecs at a distinct advantage before they tip.

The Aztecs only have a pair of losses on the season. San Diego State lost to BYU twice in conference play. The Aztecs avenged those defeats with an impressive win in the Mountain West Conference championship game earlier this month. Both teams can meet for a fourth time this season in the national championship game on April 4th.

We’re not there yet. SDSU must navigate past a UConn team that flat out wins tournaments. The Huskies shocked the country in the Maui Invitational and Big East Championship. This team enters the regional semifinal match-up with a 10-0 tournament record this season. Kemba Walker, a front-runner for player of the year, averages over 23 points per game in his breakout season for the Huskies.

They call the student section “The Show” in Viejas Arena, where San Diego State plays its home games. Think of it as a Stanford dress code with a Big East attitude and you can pretty much picture the result. Two hours north of their home base, Aztec fans will migrate to Anaheim for the second weekend of the tournament.

Showtime is just hours away.

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