We, the staff of Kabeer Thirty, are a diverse bunch. Only four out of five of us are white dudes, which I believe makes us the most diverse college sports blog on the history of the internet. Politically, we range from centrist/moderate/whatever to lemonverbena, who always tries to slip me copies of “The Daily Worker” whenever we meet up at Qualcomm. Our musical tastes range from Weezer to Blink 182 to Nirvana to OK maybe we’re not that diverse.
Actually, our preseason predictions for the Aztecs kinda aren’t that diverse either, ranging all the way from the depths of a 24-win regular season to the height of a 28-win mountaintop. In sum: We all think they’ll be pretty good, you guys!
It’s only in how you define that where you get a little disagreement.
Aztecs to meet our wildest meh-xpectations
Regular season record: 24-6 (15-3 MWC)
MWC Tournament result: Win tournament, beating Boise State in championship game
Postseason prediction: Lose in NCAA 2nd round to a 2-seed from major conference
Since 2008 Steve Fisher’s Aztecs have lost 10, 9, 3, 8, 11, 5, 9 and 10 games per season, only missing the NCAA tournament in the first and last year of the last eight. Fisher seems to have the team he wants – if he can get them suited up and on the floor.
It’s hard to predict health, so based on roster talent, Fisher still being Fisher, the MWC conference being its bad self and program-wide motivation for missing the tourney last year, I’m predicting this year’s Aztecs win the conference championship and the MWC tournament. Unless they’ve banked marquee non-conference wins over, say, Gonzaga and Cal, and don’t have bad losses to, say, Grand Canyon or Savannah State, the automatic bid probably only gets the Aztecs a 7 or 8 seed in the NCAA tourney. That usually means a brutal 2nd-round matchup against a high seed.
And so, here at the beginning of the end of the American empire, I’m guessing a great season that ends at the round of 32.
Don’t bet on two consecutive stumbles
Regular season record: 25-5 (16-2 MWC)
Postseason prediction: Enter as a 6 seed and reach the Sweet 16 before losing to the eventual national champion
In the years after Kawhi (who I defeated in beer pong) left, we were blessed by a few years of Fisher’s teams exceeding expectations. This was thanks mostly to players like Jamaal Franklin and Xavier Thames going from “good college basketball players” to “Monstar-esque juggernauts of ballerism.”
Last year was the first time it really felt like we significantly underachieved since the 2010 renaissance. So call me an optimist, but I don’t see that happening two years in a row. Led by one of the best backcourts in the country, a couple giant freak athletes and the sage, calming wisdom of Ben Perez, I think this season will be special.
This is the year we enter this ranks of the elite
Postseason prediction: They battle their way to the Elite 8 and lose a heartbreaker to West Virginia
Despite taking home the regular season title last year, SDSU failed to capture the MWC Tournament championship, resulting in their first absence from the big dance in six seasons. But this year’s team will rebound (pun intended) and bring glory back to San Diego by remaining locked down on the defensive side of the ball, as they have come to be known for over the years, while improving on offense.
The additions of guys like Montaque Gill-Caesar, Jalen McDaniels, and Nolan Narain will add a healthy dose of scoring power to the Aztecs lineup. Missing out on an NCAA Tourney bid this past March and the ensuing loss in the NIT title game left the program and its fans with a bad taste in their mouths. But with that also comes motivation for this year’s squad to come through for Fisher and the Aztec faithful.
Questions abound, but pessimism doesn’t
Regular season record: 25-5 (16-2 MWC)
Postseason prediction: NCAAs. One win over a middling power conference team, and a loss to a Cinderella. The Gulf Coast Special!
This is kind of a nerve-wracking season in a lot of ways. Is this the final year of the Fisher era? Is this the final year of humanity before we’re all vaporized by alien invaders (hopefully!)? Are these newcomers good-good or, like, Wesley Stokes-good? Who will Matt Shrigley get 2 a.m. burritos with now that Skylar is gone?
Fortunately we know this: Trey Kell, Jeremy Hemsley and Zylan Cheatham were very good as underclassmen last year, and they should be even better this year with more experience, confidence and comfort. It’ll be fun to see who steps up to fill in around them, because someone will. Could be Malik Pope if he knee gets right. Could be one or two of the kids. Could be all of the above.
My only concern is that the early season injuries make the Gonzaga and Cal games uphill climbs (limps?). But the Aztecs will get healthy, and I don’t see any other likely RPI-killing stumbles or afternoon games at ballparks, aircraft carriers or the parking lot of Pancho Villa’s to muck everything up.
It’ll be a good season, albeit good by our standards. One-tourney-win good.
Enjoy it before the saucers descend to dole out our richly-deserved fate.