This match-up pits two head coaches with NCAA Tournament experience. Neither are still with the team they had the most success with, but Steve Fisher and Steve Lavin will have their current teams ready for this game.
San Diego State have come into the NCAA Tournament with better teams recently, but this seed better suits this squad. They couldn’t live up to the high seeds Fisher’s teams have received from the selection committee.
This will only be the fourth time this century that St. John’s will appear in an NCAA Tournament. The once-powerful program fell on hard times in the late 90’s. Lavin helped resurrect them from the dead.
This game will be a chess match between two great head coaches. Which team will advance?
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San Diego State was the regular season champions in the Mountain West Conference. They were then upset in the conference tournament final by Wyoming. The final score of that game is 45-43…right in SDSU’s wheelhouse, but weren’t able to win. They love playing at a slow pace. It’s not unusual for their opponent to only score in the 40’s. Head coach Steve Fisher always them playing excellent defense. His SDSU teams have all played defense at a high level.
St. John’s haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament much in the last decade. Head coach Steve Lavin has finally put his stamp on the program. They looked like they were set to do some damage in March, but St. John’s announced their star center Chris Obekpa will be suspended for two weeks. His defense would have been nice to have against San Diego State.
If St. John’s had Obekpa for this game, I believe the Red Storm would leave with a victory. St. John’s doesn’t have another big body to plug in his role. This game will be close, but San Diego will put a stranglehold on the Red Storm.
Prediction: #8 San Diego State
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.