(7) San Diego State vs. (15) Florida Gulf Coast
(7) San Diego State Aztecs
The Aztecs battled closely with the Oklahoma Sooners in the first half, but eventually they were able to pull away for a 70-55 victory and a Round of 32 match up against the Eagles. The Aztecs have relied on their guard play all season long and Jamaal Franklin put on a star performance for them on Friday. He had 21 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals. James Rahon provided instant offense off of the bench, adding 17. The Aztecs won the battle of the boards by eight, aided by their 10 offensive rebounds. The Aztecs will be favored against the Eagles, but they’re a team that is playing with a supreme amount of confidence right now. They were incredible in their opening game against Georgetown. To get by them and move onto the Sweet 16, they have to try and slow down Comer and keep the Eagles off of the free throw line. If they play defense like they did in the second half against Oklahoma, they’ll be in a prime position to move on.
(15) Florida Gulf Coast Eagles
For the third time in the last two years, a 15-seed has upset a two-seed. The Eagles hung tight with the Hoyas through the first 20 minutes, then erupted for 54 points in the second half to make school history in just their second year of being eligible for postseason play. Comer was tremendous, finishing with 12 points, six rebounds and 10 assists. Bernard Thompson and Sherwood Brown combined to score 47 and the Hoyas just didn’t have the firepower to keep up with them, especially with the foul trouble they had to deal with. The Eagles got to the free throw line 44 times, where they made 30, while the Hoyas could only manage to shoot 37 percent from the field and 25 percent from deep. They’re going up against a San Diego State team that is more potent offensively than the Hoyas. They have very good quickness and athleticism overall, but the Eagles still need to look to push the tempo and aggressively attack.
HOOPSWORLD’s pick: San Diego State. Their defense will slow down the Eagles and earn them a spot in the Sweet 16.