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NCAA tournament team previews: San Diego State Aztecs

Xavier Thames, San Diego StateXavier Thames helped the Aztecs make the Big Dance for the fifth year in a row. (Jeremy Martin/AP)

As part of its preview of the 2014 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, SI.com is taking a look at all 68 teams in the field. RPI and SOS data from realtimerpi.com. Adjusted offense and defense are from kenpom.com and measure the number of points scored and allowed per 100 possessions, and the team's national rank. For more teams, click here.

Record: 29-4, 16-2 in Mountain West Conference

RPI/SOS: 14/85

Adjusted Offense/Adjusted Defense: 107.9 (104th) / 91.0 (7th)

Seed: No. 4 in West

Impact player: Xavier Thames, senior guard. 16.8 ppg, 3.2 ast, .827 ft, .387 3pt

The Case For:

Point guard Xavier Thames has had an All-America-type season but the hallmark of this team is its elite defense, which ranks eighth in the country by allowing teams to shoot just 38.4 percent from the field. The Aztecs can get you with pressure, they can defend on the perimeter, they force a lot of turnovers and they always seem like they're in control while their opponent is gasping for air. Kansas and Creighton both fell to Steve Fisher's club during the regular season. If a team doesn't have enough time to prepare for San Diego State, it's going to be at a severe disadvantage. Even if there's ample time for scouting, it might not matter. The defense is that good.

The Case Against:

Defense can't do it all, and eventually you need to put it in the tin. If the San Diego State isn't hitting shots, it can't get set up in its defense, and it allows the other team to get run-outs and transition baskets while the Aztecs have their backs turned. Over the regular season, SDSU made the most of its possessions and shortened the game by taking a lot off the shot clock, but if it's not hitting shots, it'll be tough to overcome any sort of deficit. They made 45 percent from the field in their 29 wins and just 35 percent in their four losses.

SI prediction: Beat New Mexico State in second round, beat North Dakota State in third round, lose to Arizona in Sweet 16

View complete bracket predictions from SI.com's panel of experts

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