The Final Four of the 2023 NCAA Men’s Tournament will take place on Saturday and one of the teams that will be taking the floor is the No. 5 San Diego State Aztecs. They will be representing the Mountain West Conference at NRG Stadium in Houston, TX, and their inclusion is historic.
Since the conference’s founding in 1999 San Diego State is the first Mountain West team to reach the Final Four. This year’s Aztec team is also the first MWC program to reach the Elite Eight since Utah in 2006. Prior to this season, the league had collectively lost 11 straight NCAA Tournament games. Needless to say, there are some smiling faces at the conference offices in Colorado Springs, CO.
It should be noted that a few final four programs have made the Final Four in their respective histories prior to the creation of the Mountain West. Wyoming and Utah won the 1943 and 1944 national championships, respectively, as members of the Mountain States Conference, a spiritual predecessor to the MWC. And then nearly half a century later, the famous Jerry Tarkanian UNLV teams made a handful of Final Four’s and won the 1990 national title as a member of the Big West.