Tim Shelton has seen his fair share of Selection Sundays. The junior forward has felt his fair share of snubs and disappointments on those days too.
So for Shelton, it was a pleasant surprise yesterday when the NCAA selection committee announced the San Diego State men’s basketball team would be the No. 2 seed in the West Region, playing in Tucson, Ariz. this Thursday.
“I really feel like this worked out perfectly for us,” Shelton said. “It’d be nice to have a one seed, but at the same time, hey, we’re in Arizona.”
The Arizona Second and Third Round site was geographically the closest to SDSU. Playing in the West Region bracket also ensures SDSU will play its Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games in Anaheim, if it makes it that far. And as if that wasn’t enough good news for the Aztecs, the NCAA selection committee pitted SDSU against No. 15 seed Northern Colorado, a team the Aztecs have beaten five out of the six times they’ve played in their respective school histories.
“I’m happy that we’re in and that we’re playing a team I’m familiar with,” senior guard D.J. Gay said. “I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Sunday’s Selection Show had a different feel than in years past, too. For one, the team held its viewing party in Viejas Arena, where the members of the squad watched the Selection Show on two big-screen TVs and the arena’s jumbotron. About 2,500 Aztec fans showed up, the band was there and even the cheerleaders made an appearance in an effort to root on SDSU’s NCAA bid.
But what got somewhat lost in all the hoopla was one key thing:
The Aztecs got exactly what they wanted – a Selection Sunday sight that has never happened in Shelton and Gay’s four-year tenure at SDSU.
When the two were freshmen, along with senior forward Billy White, they had compiled a 20-13 season, but were overlooked by the committee. Then, in their sophomore years, they put together a 26-10 record, but failed to make the NCAA Tournament (most pundits said they were the first team out of the tournament that year). Last year, the committee finally put them in the Big Dance, but it sent them about 3,000 miles away to Providence, R.I.
But finally, Gay, White and Shelton had a stress-free Selection Sunday in which their squad got the seed, the region and the opponent they wanted.
“Our mentality is we’ve got the two seed,” Shelton said. “We feel like we’re better than the teams we’re going to be playing and we should win.”