For most of the season, the prospect of the Aztecs men's basketball team not earning a spot in the NCAA Tournament would have been inconceivable.
Now, it's actually a possibility.
Not a probability (they're still projected as a 9th seed and have a strong RPI of 32), but there is a series of events that might keep the Aztecs out of March Madness.
SDSU has lost 4 of its last 7 games. One of the big determining factors for the selection committee is momentum. They want teams playing well down the stretch. If the Aztecs lose to Boise State again in the first round of the Mountain West Conference Tournament on Wednesday, it opens them up to a seat on the dreaded "bubble."
We've already seen upsets in conference tournaments (Liberty,anyone?). That's bound to happen again. When it does, a dance bid goes to a team the committee was not expecting, and another at-larger berth gets used up for the team they were expecting (hoping) to get an automatic spot, and as it stands right now there are a lot of teams just as deserving of an at-large invitation as San Diego State.
So, the tilt with Boise State just might be a kind of "play-in game." That should add a whole lot of pressure. Head coach Steve Fisher doesn't think that's a terrible thing.
"There must be pressure," said Fisher on Monday. "So if we need to have the pressure of, 'Well we have to win this game to make the NCAA Tournament,' that won't be my theme to them, but there needs to be self-imposed pressure. Just enough to get you on edge, but not enough to have you so tense and tight that you don't perform."
If that's the case, the Aztecs should be in a perfect spot. If they beat the Broncos, they're in, no problem. Boise State is also 21-9, with a mid-30's RPI. If the Aztecs don't win Wednesday, they still have a better than 50/50 chance at the Big Dance, but it's far from guaranteed. That should add just the right amount of pressure to get them back on track.