SAN DIEGO — The San Diego State University Men’s Basketball team has punched their ticket to the Final Four, marking the furthest the Aztecs have gone in the NCAA Tournament in program history.
With their last-second 57-56 victory over Creighton Sunday, the 2022-2023 Aztecs have further cemented their status as the most successful SDSU basketball team to date. The team had previously never advanced past the Sweet 16.
With the team’s recent success in mind, we take a look back at some other notable Aztecs squads in recent memory and how they fared.
This team is notable in that it was the first squad in program history to qualify for the tournament, according to Sports Reference. The Aztecs were ultimately eliminated in the first round of this 32-team tournament by UNLV, losing 80-90.
The team’s leading scorer was Will Connelly, who averaged 17.7 points per game on the season, according to Sports Reference.
Speaking of San Diego, the Final Four of this tournament was played at the San Diego Sports Arena, now called Pechanga Arena. UCLA won the tournament over Kentucky in what would be legendary coach John Wooden’s last game.
The Aztecs did not find much success between 1975 and 2010, making the tournament only four other times in that span and losing in their first matchup in each outing.
Things began to turn around for SDSU starting in 2010.
Head Coach Steve Fisher’s squad amassed a 34-3 record during the season, winning the Mountain West Conference and earning a two-seed in the NCAA Tournament, the highest seed the Aztecs have ever received.
The team was led by Kawhi Leonard, who would go on to win NBA Finals MVP with the San Antonio Spurs and the Toronto Raptors. He currently plays for the Los Angeles Clippers.
The 2010-11 Aztecs made it to the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history, before being eliminated by UConn, who would go on to win the entire tournament.
This iteration of San Diego State basketball personified the identity the team had cultivated the past several years, which was built by defense.
The Aztecs stifled teams, holding opponents to only 57 point per game, the second best average among all Division I teams, according to Sports Reference.
SDSU returned to the Sweet 16 in the 2014 NCAA Tournament, falling short to one-seed Arizona.
The 2013-14 team was led by senior guard Xavier Thames, who averaged 17.6 points per game and would go on to be drafted by the Toronto Raptors.
The brand of defensive-focused basketball has carried over to the current Aztecs team as they vie for a national championship and has become the San Diego State calling card.
This SDSU team will go down as the ultimate “what if.”
The Aztecs ran through their competition in Brian Dutcher’s third season as head coach, racking up a 30-2 record, finishing the season as the the sixth ranked team on the AP poll.
The Cinderella run was not to be for the Aztecs however, as the NCAA Tournament was canceled before it ever started due to the growing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S.
San Diego State was projected to possibly be a two seed, had the tournament taken place.
The 2019-20 team was headlined by Malachi Flynn, who averaged 17.6 points per game and currently plays for the Toronto Raptors.
Had the tournament taken place, we could be referring to the current Aztecs team as the second-ever SDSU squad to make the Final Four, but we will never know.