The Rise of UConn and San Diego State
In an incredible matchup on Monday night, University of Connecticut (UConn) Huskies took on the San Diego State Aztecs for the title of National Champions of NCAA Men’s Basketball. The Huskies were victorious and earned their fifth national title in a 76-59 win with Tristan Newton, a senior guard, leading the points at a total of 19. This year was the first year that there was no number one seed in the championship game.
The Connecticut based team has made 35 tournament appearances with five of them being to the Final Four. The Huskies have earned a championship title a total of four times, with the first dating back to 1999. The last time the team was seen in the March Madness games was in 2016, where they fell short to Kansas in the second round with a score of 73-61.
Their opponent, on the other hand, entered unfamiliar territory the other night. This was the first time the Aztecs had made it to a championship game. The West Coast school has earned 11 conference titles for the regular season and nine in the conference tournament over the years. The most interesting part? They have only graced the Final Four court once in the school’s career.
In the preseason AP Poll, San Diego State was casted for 19th while UConn wasn’t even granted a ranking. Throughout the weeks, the rankings remained somewhat the same for the Aztecs, with their largest change being from 17th down to 24th. It was a much different story for the Huskies with their biggest jump occurring between week two and three, the team went from 20th place to eighth. As for the final polls, San Diego only managed to move up by one while their opponent was placed at 10th.
With these teams heading into their final game of the season, San Diego State held a record of 32-6 while UConn was at 30-8. The Aztecs’ first loss was in a game against the Arizona Wildcats back in mid-November. The team lost by a mere three points, and the following day, they lost by four against the Arkansas Razorbacks. Their largest margin when it comes to losses was nine points against the New Mexico Lobos and the Nevada Wolf Pack in January. The largest margin in their wins department this season was 38 points against Occidental Tigers with a score of 95-57.
UConn had their first loss on New Year’s Eve against Xavier. The Huskies went up against the Musketeers twice this season and lost both times, and the same happened against the Marquette University Golden Eagles. When UConn was matched up with Providence in early January, they had their largest margin loss at 12 points with a score of 73-61. Their largest margin win of the season was an insane 53 points against Long Island University; they won the game 114-61.
The game wouldn’t be the same without the great players on each team. Adama Sanogo led UConn this season with the most points and rebounds. Sanogo averaged 17.2 points per game and had Jordan Hawkins close behind him with 16.2 points. Sanogo’s 7.7 rebounds was only 1.5 more than guard Andrew Jackson Jr. San Diego State’s leaders were Matt Bradley and Nathan Mensah. Bradley led in the points department with 12.6 points per game and Mensah found himself with a season total of 5.9 rebounds.
Now that March Madness has come to an end, many will tune back into the NBA games which will be heading into the playoff season soon enough. The NBA Play-In Tournament kicks off on April 11 and will conclude on April 14. The Play-In games determine the seventh and eighth seed of the playoffs with the seventh and eighth seed of the East starting the tournament. April 15 will mark the first day of playoffs, which will come to a close by the end of the month before Conference Semifinals take place.