Over four months ago, Arizona and San Diego State met in a regular season non-conference game. Now, the two clubs are set to go head-to-head in the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
As the No.4 seed in the West Region, San Diego State is looking for retribution against No.1 Arizona. The Wildcats defeated the Aztecs by nine in their first meeting.
The matchup will take place at the Honda Center in Anaheim on Thursday night. The winner will go to on play either No.2 Wisconsin or No.6 Baylor.
The Wildcats haven’t faced much adversity all season long. They held the No.1 ranking in both top 25 polls for several weeks, losing their first game on Feb. 1. Arizona eased their way into the Sweet 16, defeating Weber State and Gonzaga by an average of 16 points. The team registered 11 wins against tournament teams, before the field of 68 was selected. If the Wildcats are able to continue to play the way they have all season, they’ll find themselves in the Elite Eight.
"That's going to be the key to the game as far as us just doing what we do, be a defensive team,” Arizona guard Nick Johnson said. “Take care of the ball when they try to pressure us."
San Diego State
The Aztecs aren’t the flashiest team in the Sweet 16, but they do what it takes to win. With only two players averaging more than 8.4 points per game, San Diego State has gone 31-4, by limiting mistakes and playing great defense. Only Virginia allows less than their opponents’ average of 56.6 points per game. The Mountain West regular-season champs hold opposing teams to an average of 38.3 percent shooting, and gave up just 44 points in their second tournament victory.
"We love playing defense," San Diego State senior Xavier Thames said. "We know offense is going to come, but if we want to win and win big, we have to play defense."
Arizona is the biggest favorite in the Sweet 16, giving San Diego State eight points. The Aztecs are decided underdogs, after being the clear favorites in their first two tournament games. With two of the nation’s best defensive teams squaring off, the over/under of 121.5 is the lowest of the round.
As part of a weak conference, San Diego State is not often recognized as one of the country’s best teams. The movement in the betting odds reflects that sentiment, considering the Aztecs began the week as just six-point underdogs. They are 19-13 against the spread, while Arizona has covered the line 21 times in 35 tries.
TV and Online Info
The two teams from out West have the latest start time of any Sweet 16 game. Tip-off is scheduled for 10:17 p.m. ET. TBS will air the game on TV, but viewers can watch a free live stream with March Madness Live.