No joke . . . the Aztecs are going to Houston.
Fifth-seeded San Diego State (31-6) has won eight consecutive games, 14 of its last 15, 18 of its last 20 and improved to 8-3 on a neutral court after an impressive 57-56 victory over sixth-seeded Creighton on Sunday in the NCAA South Regional Final at the KFC YUM! Center in Louisville, Ky.
They now will face ninth-seeded Florida Atlantic (35-3), the NCAA East Regional champion, Saturday, April Fool's Day, in Houston. Tipoff is at 6:09 p.m. ET (CBS) in the first game of the Final Four.
Florida Atlantic has won 11 games in a row, 14 of its last 15 games and is a perfect 7-0 on a neutral court. The Owls upended third-seeded Kansas State, 79-76, in the East Regional final last Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York. Favorite Connecticut plays Miami (Fla.) in the nightcap.
Unfortunately, Aztecs fans will not be able to wager on the game in-state, as there is no legal California sports betting.
Still, BetCalifornia.com — your source for California sports betting promo codes — wanted to look at what an impressive achievement this is for San Diego State, measuring the state’s history in the NCAA Tournament since 1939.
San Diego State First in 35 Years
This is the first time a non-UCLA team from California has made the Final Four since Stanford accomplished the feat in 1998 and is only the second non-Bruins squad to achieve the milestone in 63 years. The Final Four began in 1939.
Of course, UCLA more than makes up for any slack in the state with dominance that still amazes.
The Bruins have made the Final Four 19 times and raised the National Championship trophy 11 times, thanks in large part to head coach John Wooden and centers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton.
Here is the list of non-UCLA teams from the Golden State in the Final Four (*indicates champ):
More About the Aztecs
San Diego State is coached by Brian Dutcher, in his sixth season after being an assistant to former Aztecs coach Steve Fisher. Dutcher also was an assistant to Fisher when Michigan won the national championship in 1989. Dutcher has leaned on that experience during the team’s current success to its first Final Four appearance.
Throw in some major defense and that’s why the Aztecs are here. In four NCAA Tournament games, the Aztecs have limited their opposition to a putrid 17% shooting from 3-point range (16-for-94).
Senior guard Matt Bradley (12.5 points per game) is the only player on the team who averages double digits in scoring.
Last Saturday's Elite Eight victory was Dutcher's 150th win at the school (150-46, .765).
BetMGM Odds: From +8000 to +375
You can’t get a legal online bet in California, as two proposals for legal wagering were shot down last November.
However, at BetMGM sportsbooks across the nation, the Aztecs (+375) are the second choice to win the title, after opening the tournament at the long odds of +8000. Currently, the Aztecs have just 2.5% of the tickets held and 2.4% of the handle.
Florida Atlantic is the fourth choice. The Owls opened the tournament at a staggering +25000 and moved to just +20000 during the first round (March 16-17). They now are +625, with 2.6% of the tickets held and 2.1% of the handle.
UConn (-125) is the favorite, with Miami the third choice at +475.
“This has been a great NCAA Tournament for BetMGM, with no significant future liabilities remaining heading into the Final Four,” said Seamus Magee, a sports trader at BetMGM. "Bettors are showing strong support for UConn and the Huskies winning it all could become a bad outcome for the sportsbook.”
Brian Dutcher and San Diego State could have a say in that when all is said and done.