The San Diego State Aztecs are bound for the Sweet 16, but they can not fully prepare for their opponent until late Sunday night. The Aztecs will face the winner between No. 1 Arizona Wildcats or No. 8 seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs; that game is the late game on Saturday night at 9:40 p.m. ET on TBS.
San Diego State has already played Arizona this year in Viejas Arena with the Wildcats topping the Aztecs, 69-60 in an epic battle to the finish. Both teams are very different now than they were back in the middle of November. For one, Arizona is without Brandon Ashley who suffered a season-ending foot injury back on Feb. 1. The team has struggled a little bit without Ashley, but not enough to make them drop from being named the West's No. 1 seed.
The Wildcats were undefeated with Ashley in the lineup and they lost their first game when he went down in the first few minutes in the Cal game, and went 10-4 overall -- when including that Cal game -- with Ashely not in the lineup. Three of the four loses were to tournament teams UCLA, Oregon and Arizona State. Not terrible loses but they were loses to knock them down a peg.
As for Gonzaga, they are not the same 'Zags team of the past. They were in the bottom portion of the top-25 in the second half of the season, and even with the WCC being down this year they were unable to breeze through the league. Gonzaga went 29-6 overall and their best win was defeating BYU two out of three times; they only played three NCAA tournament teams all year in BYU, Memphis (loss) and Kansas State (loss).
Gonzaga also suffered some rare WCC games against some bad teams like Portland who finished the regular season at 13-18 and San Diego who is currently playing in the CIT. Again, this is not the same old Gonzaga teams of the past.
Also, this game will be played just down the road from San Diego at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif on Thursday March 27. The Aztecs won all three games they played in the Honda Center this year, and that includes topping both Creighton and Marquette, so San Diego State is not only playing close to home but in a familiar arena.