The bluebloods are welcome to keep their seats on the couch if this is what we get from the newbies.
Lamont Butler made a fadeaway jumper as time expired and fifth-seeded San Diego State rallied from a 14-point deficit to stun ninth-seeded Florida Atlantic 72-71 in the men’s Final Four on Saturday night. The Aztecs will play either Miami or UConn for the national championship on Monday night.
Matt Bradley shook off his tournament shooting slump, leading San Diego State with 21 points. Alijah Martin had 26 for the overachieving Owls, who had never won a game in the NCAA men’s tournament three weeks ago.
Just as they had against No. 1 Alabama in the Sweet 16 and Creighton in the Elite Eight, San Diego State trailed in the second half. But they crashed the offensive boards — they had nine in a spurt of 2:04 — and turned them into buckets. When Aguek Arop scored on a second-chance jumper, it tied the game at 65 with 4:24 to play.
Giancarlo Rosado responded with a turnaround jumper to put FAU in front again and Darrion Trammell missed a chance to tie it up by going 1-for-2 from the line with 2:05 left. It looked as if it would be a decisive miss, especially when Martin scored on a scoop shot to put FAU up 71-68 with less than 46 seconds left.
But Jaedon LeDee made a pullup jumper with 36 seconds left and Johnell Davis missed a layup nine seconds left. Nathan Mensah snagged the rebound and rifled it to Butler, who let fly from the corner. It swished through the net as the buzzer sounded, and the San Diego State bench and fans erupted into pandemonium.
Credit parity, early upsets, NIL or full moons, but this has been the most unpredictable men’s tournament in, well, forever. A No. 1 seed lost to a 16 for only the second time in history, and the other three No. 1s were gone before the Elite Eight.
Beside Florida Atlantic, the Final Four featured two fifth seeds in San Diego State and Miami, and No. 4 UConn.
There’s been moaning and groaning about how nobody wants to watch the nobodies, that the Final Four lacks its usual juice. Nonsense. If you weren’t entertained by Florida Atlantic and San Diego State, you don’t like basketball.