San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Viejas Arena to host multiple teams, including No. 1 seed Arizona, in NCAA Tournament

Jason Freund
Viejas Arena will be the host of multiple NCAA Tournament games.

San Diego State will not be playing at Viejas Arena for the NCAA Tournament.

However, this doesn’t mean that there won’t be college basketball playing in San Diego.

With 64 teams competing for the ultimate prize, Viejas Arena was selected as one of the host venues for college basketball action.

Here is a preview of all the teams and games that will be played in San Diego.

No. 1 Arizona vs No. 16 Bryant OR Wright State

Wildcats (31-3)

A favorite by many to win the NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats clawed their way to the top of the Pac-12 under first-year head coach Tommy Lloyd with torrent shooting.

Their appearance comes one year after a self-imposed ban locked them out of the 2020-2021 NCAA Tournament due to federal investigations into accusations of bribery. Arizona was last in the tournament in the 2017-2018 season and was bounced out of the first round by Buffalo.

Arizona is loaded and has a balance of international and domestic players while playing a European style of basketball. Sophomore guard Bennedict Mathurin is the lead scorer on this team, averaging 17.4 PPG on 46% field goal shooting.

Flanking him are an array of shooters including junior center Christian Koloko (12.1 PPG), sophomore forward Azuolas Tubelis (14.5 PPG) and sophomore guard Kerr Kriisa (10.1 PPG)

Bulldogs (22-9)

For the first time in school history, the Bulldogs will be taking part in the NCAA Tournament after getting first place in the Northeast Conference and winning the NEC Conference Tournament to secure an automatic bid.

The Bulldogs employ an extremely quick offense, playing at the sixth-fastest pace in college basketball. This style of offense has been a major benefit as — after a slow start to the season — Bryant won 15 of their conference games and is entering the tournament on a seven-game winning streak.

Senior Peter Kiss is the most prolific player on the team and has been in the NCAA since the 2016-2017 season. He has been averaging 25.1 PPG on 45.6% shooting.

Raiders (21-13)

Coming out of the Horizon League is Wright State, who initially came in fourth place before winning the postseason conference to sneak into March Madness.

Three juniors have buoyed a consistent Raiders offense during the season in Grant Basile, Trey Calvin and Tanner Holden. A versatile 3-man, Basile can lock it down on both offense and defense, averaging 18.5 PPG with 53 total blocks on the season.

Prediction: It will be Arizona prevailing 90-76 over Wright State. The balanced attack of the Raiders will elevate them over the Bulldogs but there will be no upset in this round.

No. 3 Texas Tech Vs No. 14 Montana State

Red Raiders (25-9)

Texas Tech comes into the tournament off a 74-65 loss against Kansas in the Big 12 title game. The Red Raiders are looking to make it to the Final Four for the second time in school history. They last made the Final Four in 2019 with Chris Beard as the coach, but he has moved on to become the head coach of the Texas Longhorns. 

The current coach, Mark Adams, was a part of Beard’s coaching staff and was responsible for setting up the defense for the team that made it to the Final Four. The strength of this Texas Tech team is its defense. They are the seventh-ranked defense in division 1 and 12th-best in point differential.

Senior forward Bryson Williams led the Red Raiders in scoring. He averages 13.7 points per game and shoots 40% from behind the 3-point line. 

The Red Raiders have a veteran backcourt with senior Davion Warren and junior Terrence Shannon Jr, each averaging 9.9 PPG and 10.4 PPG respectively. 

Bobcats (27-7)

Montana State is in the tournament for the first time in 25 years and for only the fourth time in school history, after winning the Big Sky Tournament 69-66 over Weber State. They come into the tournament with momentum. After starting the season with a 9-5 record, the Bobcats have gone on to win 18 of their past 20 games. 

The Bobcats have three players who average double-digit scoring. Senior Xavier Bishop leads the team in scoring with 13.9 PPG, followed by junior Jubrile Belo’s 13 PPG and senior Amin Adamu’s 11.6 PPG. 

For Montana State to be successful in the tournament they will have to rely on the shots from behind the arch. As a team, the Bobcats shoot 36.9% from behind the 3-point line. They will be undersized against most of the teams they play. 

Prediction: Texas Tech 73-54. Their defense will be too much for the Bobcats and will force them into taking bad shots and end their impressive season. 

No. 6 Alabama vs No. 11 Rutgers OR Notre Dame

Crimson Tide (19-9)

Alabama comes into the tournament limping, losing four of its last six games. But the Crimson Tide has the potential to be explosive and shoot 48% of their shots from behind the 3-point line, meaning they can pull away quickly and get back into a game quickly. 

They have impressive wins this season, including a win against number one overall seed Gonzaga, but also have bad losses to Georgia and Missouri in the SEC. Alabama has struggled rebounding the basketball and protecting the rim in their losses this year. 

Junior guard Jaden Shackelford leads the Crimson Tide with 16.7 PPG to go along with 5.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game. The top three scorers for Alabama are all guards. 

Scarlet Knights (18-13)

Rutgers is playing in the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back years for the first time in over 40 years. Unfortunately, NCAA rules don’t allow for teams to play at their home court during the tournament and Rutgers wishes that wasn’t the case. The Scarlet Knights only won four games away from home this season.

Senior forward Ron Harper Jr. led Rutgers in scoring with 15.6 PPG. Their leader on minutes for the season was senior guard Geo Baker, who averaged 34.2 minutes per game and scored 12.4 PPG. Baker is their best player and leader and will be key if Rutgers wants to make a run in the Tournament


Fighting Irish (22-10)

Notre Dame is back in the tournament after a five-year absence thanks in large part to South Bend native, Blake Wesley. He leads the Fighting Irish in scoring as a freshman with 14.6 PPG. Wesley is part of a four-guard starting backcourt that Notre Dame likes to play with.

The small-ball lineup deployed by head coach Mike Brey, allows the Fighting Irish to defend the 3-point line well and get shots up behind the line on the offensive end. Notre Dame is 14-1 in games in which they made 10 or more 3-pointers. 

Their lack of size will allow teams to be able to penetrate and get offensive rebounds and second-chance opportunities.

Prediction: Alabama 83-67 against Rutgers. Alabama will rely on experience and talent to get past Rutgers in the first round.

No. 8 Seton Hall vs No. 9 TCU

Pirates (21-10)

The Pirates come from the Big East, the same conference that houses SDSU’s opponent Creighton. Seton Hall finished in fifth place but was one of six Big East teams to be selected to March Madness.

Perhaps the reason Seton Hall advanced is because of the wins they got in the regular season, defeating Michigan, Texas, Creighton and Xavier.

The story for Seton Hall is graduate student Bryce Aiken, who has missed a month of action after sustaining a concussion in a game against UConn. Aiken was one of the top scorers for Seton Hall, averaging 14.5 PPG and shot 44.8% from field goal range.

Now, head coach Kevin Willard will embrace the “next man up” mentality as Seton Hall looks to win their first NCAA Tournament match since 2018.

Horned Frogs (20-12)

Much like Seton Hall, TCU also finished fifth in their division (Big-12) and are in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2018.

The Horned Frogs are one of the top rebounding teams in the nation, averaging 38.78 rebounds per game. Plenty of those rebounds come from junior forward Emanuel Miller and freshman center Eddie Lampkin Jr., who have averaged 6.3 and 6.0 rebounds respectively.

While Miller has averaged 10.3 PPG, sophomore Mike Miles Jr. is the main spark plug in the backcourt, leading the team with an average 15 PPG.

As a team, TCU struggles to score when not attacking the paint, shooting just 30.4% from 3-point land

Prediction: TCU will pull off a close 76-74 upset over Seton Hall as the Horned Frog’s rebounding will help them advance to the next round.

About the Contributor
Jason Freund
Jason Freund, Sports Editor
Jason Freund is a journalism major from Santee, Calif. He hopes to become a sports journalist for a Major League Baseball team or a reporter for another major sport. In his free time, Jason enjoys listening to music, going to the gym and watching baseball. Jason began writing for The Daily Aztec in October 2019 and also writes for the East Village Times. You can follow him on Twitter @jasonfreund_.
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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
Viejas Arena to host multiple teams, including No. 1 seed Arizona, in NCAA Tournament