San Diego State opens a pivotal two-game home stand with first-place Boise State at 6 p.m. Thursday at Viejas Arena.
The Aztecs, now ranked No. 22 in the Associated Press Poll and No. 25 in USA Today’s Coaches Poll, hosts what were going to be their final regular season games with the knowledge that seeding is at stake for the Mountain West Championship Tournament.
Win, and the Aztecs (17-4, 11-3 in MW) control their own destiny. Jordan Schakel is ready.
“It’s going to be exactly what we wanted down the stretch,” he said at a news conference this week.
SDSU is enjoying an eight-game win streak after more than a month of plowing through MW also-rans. Boise State, though, ups the ante. The Broncos (18-14, 14-3 in MW) sit atop the conference standings.
“They’re a lot like us. One guy doesn’t have to carry them,” said Coach Brian Dutcher. “They’ve got a lot of offensive pieces that on any given night can get going.”
Matt Mitchell sees another commonality.
“It’ll be a battle on the defensive end on both sides,” he said.
The Aztecs, who were 3-3 and tied for fifth place in the conference last month, climbed their way up to second, a half-game behind the Broncos. Boise State lost a pair during that stretch, to Nevada, a team San Diego State swept in January.
The Broncos though also took two from Utah State, which swept the Aztecs this season.
The Boise State games aren’t the only factors in SDSU’s pursuit of a conference crown.
This week, the MW formally awarded San Diego State a pair of forfeit victories after their Feb. 3 and 5 contests with New Mexico were canceled. While the games do not count in either the overall or conference record, they will be considered for seeding and the MW championship.
SDSU also saw a game tagged onto their schedule.
The Aztecs will face UNLV in Las Vegas on March 3 to replace one of the games postponed in January following a Runnin’ Rebels’ COVID-19 issue.
That rescheduled game is among eight added by the conference, including one for Boise State, against Fresno State on Tuesday.