San Diego State basketball coach Steve Fisher.
San Diego State basketball coach Steve Fisher.

San Diego State received the eighth seed in the South Region Sunday and will begin play in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament against ninth-seeded St. John’s Friday in Charlotte, NC.

Aztecs coach Steve Fisher said he’s watched the Red Storm (21-11) “casually” on television, “but I haven’t watched them closely.”

“I know they’re athletic,” Fisher said. “They will play hard. They have some very good wins in the Big East and they will be a formidable opponent.”

Two San Diego State players have connections with St. John’s. Senior forward Dwayne Polee II will be facing the team with which he began his college career.

“I don’t feel weird at all,” said Polee, who averaged 4.4 points per game in 33 games with the Red Storm as a freshman in the 2010-11 season, with 27 starts. “At the end of the day, it’s basketball. Whoever I’m playing, I just want to go out and play to the best of my ability.”

Aztecs junior forward Winston Shepard grew up in the same Houston-area neighborhood as Red Storm forward D’Angelo Harrison, who he described as one of his best friends.

“This will be our first matchup on the college stage, so I’m looking forward to it,” Shepard said.

Despite Saturday’s 45-43 loss to Wyoming in the championship game of the Mountain West Conference, San Diego State (26-8) received its sixth consecutive NCAA tournament berth, extending its school record.

“Getting in is a major accomplishment,” Fisher said. “Now we want to win.”

The game will be televised by CBS Friday night following the conclusion of the game between top-seeded Duke and the winner of Wednesday’s First Four game between North Florida and Robert Morris, who both received 16th seeds.

The ESPN-affiliated data prediction website gives the Aztecs a 58 percent chance of defeating St. John’s.

Since the NCAA tournament field was expanded to 64 teams in 1985, eighth seeds have a 59-61 record against ninth seeds.

If the Aztecs defeat the Red Storm, they would play Sunday in Charlotte against the winner of the Duke-North Florida/Robert Morris game.

The public may call the Aztec Athletic Ticket Office from 9-11 a.m. with ticket requests. Tickets will be issued to the general public only if any tickets remain remain from the university’s allotment after its season ticket holder orders have been filled.

— City News Service

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.