While Baylor went through a thoroughly disappointing season in 2010-2011, San Diego State found themselves in the national conversation all year.
Former Michigan coach Steve Fisher led the Aztecs to a 32-2 regular season record and spot in the Sweet Sixteen, where they lost to eventual champion Connecticut. So it’s not often you see a team like this at home this early in the season.
But, like many Mid-Majors that have great seasons, the Aztecs were led by a number of seniors. Major contributors D.J. Gay, Malcolm Thomas and Billy White all ran out of eligibility. And the Aztecs had been led by sophomore Kawhi Leonard, who left for the NBA. The bulk of the team’s scoring and rebounding production left with those players.
So this isn’t exactly a juggernaut Baylor will face tonight. But the Aztecs still have some players with experience. Junior Chase Tapley played 20+ minutes a game last season, and sophomores Jamaal Franklin and LaBradford Franklin got a few minutes here and there as well. The former Franklin scored 31 points in the Aztecs last game against UC-Davis. Regardless the competition level, 31 points in a NCAA is impressive.
I’ll have my eyes on the Bears’ point guard play, which I really think is a key to their season. AJ Walton has looked good so far, with a 11-2 assist/turnover ratio in the first two games. Deuce Bello has done the opposite with a 1-6 ratio. The more those guys can run the transition offense and find Quincy Miller, Quincy Acy and (eventually) Perry Jones in spots they like, the better the Bears will be.