SAN DIEGO (CNS) - San Diego State is the sixth seed in the NCAA men's basketball tournament's Midwest Region and will face 11th-seeded Syracuse on Friday in Indianapolis.
The tournament's brackets were announced Sunday.
"I think the committee does a good job, they look at all the data, they try to analyze everything to know and so for us to get a six seed, we're just honored to have that," Aztecs coach Brian Dutcher said.
The Aztecs (23-4) have won 14 consecutive games, including a 68-57 victory over Utah State on Saturday in the championship game of the Mountain West Conference Tournament. San Diego State is seeded 24th in the 68-team field. Syracuse (16-9) is seeded 41st overall.
Because the entire tournament will be played in Indiana in an attempt to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, the overall seed list was the main determination for the bracket. In a typical year, geographic proximity to hosting sites in the early rounds helps determine bracketing decisions.
The game at Hinkle Fieldhouse is set to begin at 6:40 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time and will be televised by CBS. The final scenes of the championship game in the 1986 film "Hoosiers" were filmed at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
The Aztecs will be playing in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2018, when they were seeded 11th in the West Region and lost to Houston, 67-65, in the first round. They would have been among the top seeds in the 2020 tournament, which was canceled three days before Selection Sunday due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"It was disappointing not be able to go to the tournament last year with a 30-2 team," Dutcher said. "But now we have to make up for last round. We have to say, `We're going to win for ourselves, but we're going to try to find a way to win for those guys that didn't get to come last year, and try to make the most of every opportunity we get.'"
The matchup will give San Diego State senior forward Matt Mitchell the opportunity to play against his favorite team growing up.
"If you talked to my parents or anybody that knew me as a kid, (they knew) I wanted to be Carmelo Anthony," Mitchell said, referring to the forward who led the Orange to the 2003 NCAA championship in his lone college season.
"Growing up, I kind of modeled my game after him and that is kind of where I get my mid-range game, and why I want to give people the business down low and bully people and allow myself to get to my spots."
Mitchell, the Aztecs' leading scorer averaging 15.4 points per game, called it "kind of surreal to be playing in Syracuse in the first round, but it is an opportunity like no other."
"It is an opportunity to play against an all-time great coach in (Jim) Boehim and a great team," Mitchell said. "I am looking forward to it."
If San Diego State defeats the Orange, it would face the winner of the game between third-seeded West Virginia (18-9) and 14th-seeded Morehead State next Sunday.
Due to limited availability and high demand, only Aztec Club members at the $3,000 annual giving level and above are eligible to request tickets from SDSU for the NCAA first round. Tickets will be allocated based on the priority ranking within the annual giving level. Aztec Club members who are eligible will be contacted via email.