The 18th ranked SDSU Aztecs (24-6) will begin Mountain West Conference Tournament play in Las Vegas today by taking on the Boise State Broncos (13-16). The No. 1 seed Aztecs were 2-0 against the Broncos during the regular season.
The Aztecs shouldn't expect an easy win though. Although the Aztecs defeated the Broncos handily in their most recent match-up in Boise, they barely squeaked out a win a month earlier at home. It's a testament to the quality of the Mountain West Conference overall this year. Boise State finished tied for last in the conference, but they shouldn't be viewed as a pushover.
Jamaal Franklin, fresh off of being voted MWC Player of the Year, will look to be the difference maker in the game. In his two previous games with Boise St., Franklin has totaled 34 points and 20 rebounds. The Broncos, of course, will be look for another standout performance from Freshman Anthony Drmic, who put up a total of 27 points in his previous two games against SDSU.
With a win, San Diego State will continue on their quest to win the MWC Championship Tournament for a third straight year. The Tournament, which is being hosted at the Thomas & Mack Center for the sixth consecutive year, has obviously caught flack for giving an unfair advantage to the UNLV Rebels. While there's certainly some truth that criticsm, the proof isn't necessarily in the pudding. Although UNLV won the Tournament in both 2007 and 2008, they haven't even made the finals in the past three years.
The past three Tournament winners? Utah, SDSU, and SDSU. And SDSU was Utah's opponent in the 2009 finals.
Aztec players like to call the Thomas & Mack Center a second-home due to their recent dominance, but to win this year's Tournament, they're going to face some stiff competition. Being the No. 1 seed allows SDSU to avoid going through both UNLV and New Mexico, yet to be successful they'll still have to go through Boise State, either Colorado State (who handed them their biggest loss of the season) or TCU (who pushed them to their limits less than a week ago), and then likely UNLV, New Mexico, or long-shot Wyoming. All have been tough opponents this season.
UNLV has to be favored to win the Tournament, but the Aztecs have never backed down from a stern challenge. Led by MWC Player of the Year Jamaal Franklin and MWC Coach of the Year Steve Fisher, the Aztecs have as good of chance as anybody.