Former Cal player Matt Bradley leads San Diego State in March madness
A chance to play in the NCAA Tournament was a big reason Matt Bradley transferred from Cal to San Diego State after last season. The move paid off as the Aztecs were selected as the all-around team in the 68-team NCAA Tournament on Sunday.
Here are the first two paragraphs of Bryce Miller’s column on Bradley in the San Diego Union-Tribune after the NCAA selections were announced:
That’s why Matt Bradley came to San Diego State. That’s why, after entering Cal’s transfer portal, he cut Gonzaga, Kentucky, Kansas, USC and Oregon when his phone rang.
That’s why it was impossible to crowbar the smile off its face on Sunday when San Diego State appeared on the NCAA Tournament Selection show on CBS.
“It’s an overwhelming experience, just to hear your team get called up and have a chance to compete against all the big teams in college basketball,” Bradley said, according to the Union-Tribune. “I could never put myself in that situation. I’ve always been a fan of March Madness, but I’ve never participated in it. So, I could never put myself in the shoes of these players.
San Diego State, which lost in the Mountain West Tournament Finals to Boise State 53-52 on Saturday, earned a No. 8 seed in the Midwest Region and will face No. 9 seed Creighton from the Big East to the first round of the Aztecs. game Thursday in Fort Worth, Texas.
If the Aztecs (23-8) win this game, they will likely face No. 1 seed Kansas in the second round on Saturday. It would certainly give Bradley some national exposure.
Bradley was named to the Mountain West Conference’s five-man first team and led the Aztecs with 17.0 points per game.
What did Bradley mean to the Aztecs basketball program?
“Everything,” Dutcher said. “He had a magical season for us. We wouldn’t be in the tournament without him. Obviously now he has to be awesome for us to win the tournament.
“He doesn’t just want to go, he wants to have his moment of glory. And if he does, we will have a chance to win games.
Three weeks ago, most sites predicted the Aztecs would be kicked out of the NCAA Tournament. But San Diego State finished the season strong, winning 11 of 12 games before losing to Boise State in the conference tournament title game. That run earned the Aztecs a third-place finish in the regular season standings and included victories over NCAA Tournament teams Colorado State and Wyoming. Bradley scored 30, 26 and 24 points in the Aztecs’ final three regular season games, but averaged just 9.7 points in the three conference tournament games.
Bradley had 17 points in Saturday’s loss in the final and scored the bucket that took the Aztecs to a point in the dying moments. However, he missed two shots in the final minute which would have given the Aztecs the lead.
In Creighton, the Aztecs will face a 22-11 team that finished fourth in the Big East regular season but beat Providence in the Big East Tournament before losing to Villanova in the conference tournament final. The Bluejays picked up a win over Villanova in the regular season.
If San Diego State wins this game, they will undoubtedly face Kansas, the No. 1 seed in the Midwest region. The Jayhawks are 28-6, tied Baylor for the Big 12 regular season title with a 14-4 conference record and won the Big 12 tournament.
Kansas star Ochai Agbaji, a National Player of the Year nominee who plays the same position as Bradley (shooter), is about the same height (Agbaji is listed at 6ft 5in, Bradley at 6ft -4) and about the same weight (215 pounds for Agbali, 220 for Bradley). They could face off if Kansas and San Diego State meet.
Usually a good three-point shooting team, Creighton has made just 30.9% of his attempts from long range this season.
Another former Cal player who will take part in the NCAA Tournament is Arkansas center Connor Vanover, although it’s unclear if he will get playing time in the Razorbacs’ first-round game against Vermont. Thursday in Buffalo, NY Vanover’s playing time dwindled along the way. of the season and hasn’t played at all in Arkansas’ last 15 games.
Another former Bears player, Justice Sueing, is a member of the No. 7 seeded Ohio State team and faces Loyola-Chicago in the first round. However, Sueing suffered an abdominal injury in the second game of the season, hasn’t played since and is not expected to play in the playoffs.
Matt Bradley’s cover photo is of Orlando Ramirez, USA TODAY Sports
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