The San Diego State Aztecs aren’t just representing their campus in the 2023 NCAA Tournament; they’re the bellwether for an entire city and county.
The San Diego Padres have played in California’s southern-most coastal county since 1969, but have yet to win a World Series. The NFL’s Chargers played right off Interstate 8 from 1961-2016, but they’ve headed up I-5 to play second banana in the larger media market Los Angeles without bring home a title. Just as the NBA’s Clippers did after playing from 1978-84 at the San Diego Sports Arena.
And that makes San Diego the largest American city (No. 8 by current population) not to have won a Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, or Stanley Cup. The Aztecs football team hasn’t yet to come close to a national championship, and the hoops team had never been past a March Madness Sweet 16 before last Friday.
So what would a Division I NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship mean in America’s Finest City? It would be a first title for the city. Ever. In basically anything.
Excluding the 1973 Men’s NCAA Volleyball Championship that was held on SDSU’s campus, and seven Division II titles in non-revenue sports the Aztecs won while competing in the lower level of college athletics, a victory would be a first for an entire region. There has literally never been a championship parade in a city of over 1.4 million people, but this team and The Show are just two wins away from making history not just for a campus and a county.
So no pressure, Brian Dutcher and players, but the hopes and dreams of an entire sporting region are on your shoulders in Houston this weekend. You’ve got a chance to become immortal in place more known for modified beach baseball and burritos than beating a rival in the final game.
The Aztecs are a 3-point favorite over Florida Atlantic in Saturday’s national semifinal at DraftKings Sportsbook.