SAN DIEGO — Sixth-year head coach Brian Dutcher is leading the San Diego State University men’s basketball team on a historic run as they continue to create madness in the NCAA Tournament.
Dutcher’s four wins in this year’s competition are the only victories he has had in his NCAA Tournament head coaching career. The 63-year-old will also be the second-oldest coach to make his men’s Final Four debut in the past 25 years, ESPN’s SportsCenter tweeted Sunday.
When he started out as the Aztecs head coach in the 2017-18 season, Dutcher lost in the first round. The Aztecs did not make the tournament the following year (2018-19), while the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the 2019-20 tournament for the first time in history. Then, the following two seasons, the Aztecs suffered back-to-back first round exits.
And now in the 2022-2023 season, Dutcher has struck gold. His team has defeated the College of Charleston, Furman University, The University of Alabama and Creighton University in the NCAA Tournament.
The Aztecs’ victory versus the College of Charleston marked Dutcher’s first win in the NCAA Tournament as SDSU’s head coach, and the team’s first time past the first round since the 2014-15 season, according to Sports Reference.
Next, SDSU dominated Furman, advancing to the Sweet 16 against top overall seed Alabama. The Aztecs fought back in the second half to come back and beat the Crimson Tide, making the Elite 8 round for the first time in school history.
Then, it was time for a revenge matchup against Creighton, who ousted the Aztecs last year in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. In a last-second thriller, the Aztecs pulled out a win to continue dancing to the Final Four.
“A good leader is the best follower and he’s somebody that has good relationships with all of his staff, all his players and we trust him completely,” Aztecs senior Matt Bradley told FOX 5 after their Elite 8 win. “Every time he talks, it’s straight wisdom. He doesn’t want people to just hear him.”
Dutcher, who held the title of associate head coach/head coach before taking over the helm in 2017, was in line for the top job ahead of former Aztecs head coach Steve Fisher’s retirement.
“Since 2008-09, Dutcher and SDSU twice advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 (2011, 2014) and NIT semifinal round (2009, 2016), won at least 25 games eight times and captured nine MW championships (six regular season, three tournament),” the school said.
Prior to SDSU, he served as assistant coach and associate head coach at Michigan under Fisher, bringing a national title to Ann Arbor in 1989 during his first year. Dutcher compiled nearly 100 wins, two berths in the NCAA championship game and a regional final over a four-year period with the Wolverines.