With the first regular season game now under a month away, and everyone getting excited for November to get here, we will take a two part look at the Aztecs schedule, looking at their opponents and predicting their wins and losses. Up first, here’s a look at the non-conference slate.
The Aztecs play two exhibition games before their non-conference slate begins. First on 11/3 against UC San Diego and then their final exhibition against Cal State San Marcos on 11/7. Since those games don’t count, and are against non-division one opponents we won’t be going into any depth about them.
11/11 vs University of San Diego – Unlike last year, this game will be played in doors and at Viejas Arena. I would expect this game to be close for the first 5 to 10 minutes, as the play could be a little sloppy, before the Aztecs pull away for an easy win over their cross town rival. Win.
11/14 at Gonzaga – This is the marquee match up on the non-conference schedule, as Gonzaga will start the season ranked in the top 25, likely within the top 15. Even with the additions of Jordan Matthews (transfer from Cal) and Nigel Williams Goss (transfer from Washington) the Aztecs should be able to matchup just fine on the perimeter. However, with Przemek Karnowski now healthy and ready for the season, the Bulldogs will have a major advantage down in the post. New Aztecs center, Valentine Inzundu, has a history of foul trouble, and if he gets in foul trouble early, the Aztecs will have a hard time guarding the Gonzaga big man. Also, factor in that Gonzaga rarely loses at the Kennel. Loss.
11/16 vs San Diego Christian – After suffering a loss to the Bulldogs, the Aztecs return home to face the Hawks of San Diego Christian. They play at the NAIA level, so this shouldn't be close after the first few minutes. Win.
11/21 vs UC Berkley at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento – The Aztecs will have to find a way to contain Cal’s star player, Ivan Rabb, but this Bears team doesn't have as much talent as last years squad that fell to SDSU. The Aztecs should secure a good neutral court resume building win. Win.
11/28 vs Savannah State - The Tigers finished fifth in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, and should have a tough time with the Aztecs superior length and athleticism on the wing. Win.
12/03 at Loyola University Chicago - The Ramblers finished 8th in the Missouri Valley Conference last year, and aren't expected to be much improved this season. Win.
12/07 at Grand Canyon – The Antelopes greatly exceeded expectations last year, and upset SDSU at Viejas 52-45. I don’t expect the Aztecs to score in the 40’s this time around and I wouldn't expect the Lopes to take a game from Coach Fisher’s guys two years in a row. Win.
12/10 vs Arizona State – The Sun Devils suffered a lot of turnover during the off season and have been projected to finish in the bottom of the Pac-12 this season, but they should not be taken lightly. Junior Guard Tra Holder is back after a promising sophomore season, and coach Bobby Hurley has some talented transfers that followed him from Buffalo becoming eligible. Win.
12/12 vs Alabama State - The Hornets finished 5th in Southwestern Athletic Conference and the Aztecs should be heavily favored. Win.
12/22 vs Southern Miss (Honolulu) – This is the teams first game of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. The Golden Eagles are coming off an 8-21 season last year, finishing 12th in Conference USA, and shouldn't present too much of a challenge to SDSU. Win.
12/23 – Tulsa or Stephen F. Austin – Both teams are on the same side of the bracket as the Aztecs. They will play one of them depending on who wins and who loses. Regardless of who they end up playing, SDSU will be the more talented team and should be expected to secure a victory. Win.
12/25 – TBD (Utah) – Best case scenario is the Aztecs taking on Utah in the tournament championship game for a potential resume building win over a team from a power five conference. However, Utah no longer has the services of the reigning Pac-12 Player of the Year, Jakob Poeltl, and will likely be taking a step back this year. SDSU will enter this tournament as the most talented team, winning the entire thing is a very reasonable goal. Win.
Non-Conference Record: 11-1
While the Aztecs have some challenges in the non-conference slate, outside of the Gonzaga game, they will likely be favored to win every game.
Entering conference play with only one loss will likely have them ranked in the top 25 and positioned nicely for an at large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Check back next week for a breakdown of the conference games.