(6) San Diego State vs. (11) North Carolina State: Midwest Region
San Diego State 26-7, 10-4 MWC (Regular-season Co-MWC champions; At large)
North Carolina State 22-12, 9-7 ACC (At large)
Time: 12:40 p.m. Friday
Location: Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio
Winner will face: (3) Georgetown or (14) Belmont, Sunday
San Diego State No. 22 AP; No. 23 ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll
N.C. State No. 38 ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll
San Diego State 28
N.C. State 48
Line: North Carolina State -2 (O/U 137)
Players to Watch
San Diego State: G Jamaal Franklin, 6-5 So. (17.2 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 1.5 apg); G Chase Tapley, 6-3 Jr. (15.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.2 apg); G Xavier Thames, 6-3 So. (10.3 ppg, 4.2 apg, 3.2 rpg). With a brilliant sophomore season, Franklin became the Aztecs’ second MWC Player of the Year and just the third sophomore to win the award. Franklin earned his 12 double-double in his last 19 games during SDSU’s 68-59 MWC championship game loss to New Mexico on Saturday.
N.C. State: F C.J. Leslie, 6-8 So. (14.9 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 53.2% FG); G Lorenzo Brown, 6-5 So. (12.7 ppg, 6.4 apg, 1.8 spg); F Scott Wood, 6-6 Sr. (12.5 ppg, 41.1% 3s, 91.9% FT). Brown, who was second in the ACC in assists, was named 3rd-team All-ACC after a season in which he significantly increased his scoring, rebounds and assists during his sophomore season.
Why Each Team Dangerous
San Diego State: After losing four starters from last year’s Sweet 16 team, little was expected from the Aztecs. Young talent and great coaching has them at 26 wins. Franklin is an obvious go-to scorer for a team that averages 71.2 points. Although SDSU is capable of big nights offensively, it has won mostly with defense. It has held opponents to 40 percent from the floor and 33.8 from the 3-point line and the Aztecs force 13 turnovers per game. They’re also a strong rebounding team, out-boarding opponents by 5.2 per game this season.
N.C. State: Since a 4-game losing streak that saw the its NCAA bid slipping away, NC State has won 4-of-5, including wins over Miami and Virginia and a close loss to No. 4 UNC. The Wolfpack are very talented, led by sophomores Leslie and Brown. The Pack led the ACC in field goal percentage at 46.3 and they’re a solid rebounding team. The Pack out-rebounded opponents by 3.7 per game, averaging 12.1 offensive boards per game. Brown is a great floor leader, helping NC State to 16 assists per game, which is 13th-best in the nation.
Why Each Team is Vulnerable
San Diego State: SDSU is young and, therefore, inconsistent. And they haven’t performed well against the best teams on their schedule. The Aztecs are 5-6 against tournament teams. The Aztecs have a negative assist-to-turnover ratio (12.4-to-12.9) and they’re an average shooting team at best. They are shooting 45.6 percent from the field and 34.1 percent from the 3-point line. In their recent MWC Tourney loss to New Mexico, they were just 23-for-62 from the field with 15 turnovers in the defeat.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack has had some head-scratching performances, including losses to Georgia Tech, Clemson and Stanford. With the exception of Wood, it doesn’t have much perimeter firepower. They made just 182 3s this season, which ranks 235th in the country. Seven NC State players average at least 19 minutes per game. No other play more than 11, so depth is an issue.
The Bottom Line: This is one of the best matchups of the first round. Franklin will be the difference in a tight game.
The Pick: San Diego State 70, North Carolina State 67