San Diego State gets No. 5 seed in South, faces Charleston on Thursday

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – San Diego State is seeded fifth in the South Region of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and will face 12th-seeded College of Charleston in a first-round game Thursday in Orlando, Florida.

“Someone said to me yesterday that we always seem to get a higher seed than the media thinks we’re going to, and it happens again,” Aztecs coach Brian Dutcher said Sunday after the bracket were revealed.

“I think most people thought we’d probably be a six seed. We ended up five seed, and I think deservedly so. We had a very good season. And our numbers spoke for themselves, our net ranking, our KenPom numbers. And so this seed is probably well deserved.

“And now it doesn’t matter what the seeds are now, you have to go play, and the better team will win on Thursday, so we have to be prepared and we have to be the better team.”

Oddsmakers have made San Diego State (27-6) a 4 1/2- to 5 1/2-point favorite. The ABC News-owned data prediction website FiveThirtyEight gives the Aztecs a 67% chance of winning.

Since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, the fifth seeds have a 84-44 record against the 12th seeds in the first round. Two 12th seeds beat fifth seeds last year — Richmond, a 67-63 winner over Iowa, and New Mexico State, which defeated Connecticut 70-63.

The Cougars (31-3) qualified for the tournament for the first time since 2018 and the sixth time in school history when they defeated UNC- Wilmington, 63-58, Tuesday in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament championship, their 10th consecutive victory.

San Diego State officially assured itself of a berth in the 68-team field Saturday with a 62-57 victory over Utah State in the Mountain West Conference Tournament championship, but it had long been assured of a spot.

The 12:10 p.m. game will be televised by truTV. The winner will play Saturday against the winner of Thursday’s game between fourth-seeded Virginia and 13th-seeded Furman.

The Aztecs will be playing in the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive season, fourth time in the six seasons Dutcher has coached the team, 10th in the last 14 years, 14th since becoming a Division I program in the fall of 1969 and 17th all-time, including three appearances in the College Division (now Division II) tournament.

The Aztecs would have made another NCAA tournament appearance in 2020 when they were 30-2 and ranked sixth by The Associated Press, but the tournament was canceled because of the coronavirus.

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