6 things to know about Florida Atlantic’s Final Four opponent: San Diego State
San Diego State and Florida Atlantic are set for one of the more improbable NCAA Tournament Final Four matchups of all time on Saturday in Houston.
The No. 5 seed Aztecs (31-6) may be a more established program in the echelons of college basketball but they've nonetheless reached uncharted waters by qualifying for the Final Four.
The Aztecs rolled to the Mountain West Conference regular season championship this season in convincing fashion, finishing two games clear of runner-up Utah State and Boise State.
They then won the conference tournament with a pair of close victories against Colorado State (64-61) and Utah State (62-57) in the quarterfinal and championship game, respectively.
San Diego State leans on its defense and is ranked No. 24 nationally in holding opponents to 62.9 points per game.
Here are six more things to know about Florida Atlantic's Final Four opponent:
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How did San Diego State make the Final Four?
The Aztecs defeated No. 12 seed College of Charleston 63-57 in the opening round before defeating No. 13 seed Furman 75-52 in the second round to advance from the Orlando regional.
San Diego State then pulled off one of the tournament’s biggest upsets by defeating overall tournament No. 1 seed Alabama 71-64 in Louisville. The Aztecs held the Crimson Tide to just 11 percent 3-point shooting.
The Aztecs defeated No. 6 seed Creighton 57-56 on Sunday as the Aztecs connected on a late free throw for a controversial win in the Elite Eight.
Which San Diego State players should FAU fans know?
Senior guard Matt Bradley leads the Aztecs in scoring, averaging 12.3 points per game. He hits 35.8 percent of 3-point shots and is an 80 percent shooter from the free throw line.
6-foot-10 forward Nathan Mensah, who grew up in Ghana, is the team's leading inside presence: He leads the team in rebounding (5.9 per game) and blocks (1.7 per game).
Senior guard Darion Trammell and junior guard Lamont Butler are the team's leading facilitators, averaging 3.1 and 3.3 assists per game respectively.
Who is San Diego State basketball's head coach?
Brian Dutcher is the head coach for San Diego State basketball. He's led the program since 2017, taking over after legendary head coach Steve Fisher retired.
Dutcher is a Fisher disciple and was on the coach's staff when he led Michigan to the 1989 national championship.
He was also part of the coaching staff which helped the Wolverines land its legendary 1991 recruiting class, known as the "Fab Five" featuring Jalen Rose, Chris Webber, Juwan Howard and more.
Has San Diego State ever made the Final Four?
In the program’s 15th NCAA Tournament appearance, San Diego State is making its first appearance in the Final Four.
Previously, the Aztecs' deepest NCAA Tournament runs were in 2011 and 2014 when they reached the Sweet Sixteen.
Nonetheless, the Aztecs were one of the nation's top mid-major programs under Fisher with eight appearances in the NCAA Tournament between 1999 and 2017.
Have FAU and San Diego State played before?
San Diego State is 2-0 all-time against Florida Atlantic basketball though the teams haven't played in more than 20 years.
The Aztecs defeated the Owls 91-75 on Dec. 28, 2002 in the teams' last meeting. San Diego State blew out FAU 90-57 in the program's first meeting on Nov. 30, 2000.
What league is San Diego State basketball in?
San Diego State basketball is a powerhouse of the Mountain West Conference. The Aztecs have won the conference regular season championship three of the last four years and the conference tournament in 2021 and 2023.
According to Jeff Sagarin's 2023 power ratings index, the Mountain West Conference was the eighth-toughest conference in college basketball this season.
FAU's Conference USA was rated 10th most-difficult in the same publication.
Eric J. Wallace is the deputy sports editor for The Palm Beach Post. He can be reached at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Final Four: 6 things to know about FAU basketball foe San Diego State