Home » The Sports Report: Surprise! San Diego State is in the Final Four

The Sports Report: Surprise! San Diego State is in the Final Four

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

From Mark Zeigler: The program that 25 years ago was among the worst in college basketball, that had 14 losing seasons in 15 years, that had never been ranked in the Associated Press poll until 2010, that hadn’t won an NCAA tournament game until 2011, that hadn’t been past the Sweet 16 until Friday, that doesn’t play in a power conference, that crams into middle seats on Southwest Airlines for road trips, that has two players in its rotation who had no Division I scholarship offers out of high school — is going to the Final Four in Houston.

Take a breath and think about it.

There are 363 men’s college basketball teams in Division I. Four will play in Houston for the national championship. And San Diego State is one of them after beating Creighton 57-56 in the South Region final Sunday at Louisville’s KFC Yum! Center.

The San Diego State Aztecs.

The school that won one Division I national title, in men’s volleyball in 1973 — and dropped the sport.

But it will play for another, starting Saturday in the semifinals against Cinderella Florida Atlantic. Connecticut is in the other semi against Miami.

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Who will win the men’s basketball title, Florida Atlantic, Miami, San Diego State or UConn? Vote here and let us know. Results will be in Friday’s newsletter.

Men’s tournament results, schedule
All times Pacific

Elite 8
Saturday’s results

East Regional
No. 9 Florida Atlantic 79, No. 3 Kansas State 76

West Regional
No. 4 UConn 82, No. 3 Gonzaga 54

Sunday’s results

Midwest Regional
No. 5 Miami 88, No. 2 Texas 81

South Regional
No. 5 San Diego State 57, No. 6 Creighton 56

Final Four
No. 5 San Diego State vs. No. 9 Florida Atlantic, 3 p.m., CBS

No. 4 UConn vs. No. 5 Miami, 5:40 p.m., CBS

Monday, April 3
Final Four winners, 5 p.m., CBS

Women’s tournament

All times Pacific
Sweet 16
Friday’s results

Greenville 2 Regional

No. 3 LSU 66, No. 2 Utah 63

No. 9 Miami 70, No. 4 Villanova 65

Seattle 2 Regional

No. 2 Iowa 87, No. 6 Colorado 77

No. 5 Louisville 72, No. 8 Ole Miss 62

Saturday’s results
Greenville 1 Regional

No. 1 South Carolina 59, No. 4 UCLA 43

No. 2 Maryland 76, No. 3 Notre Dame 59

Seattle 1 Regional

No. 1 Virginia Tech 73, No. 4 Tennessee 64

No. 3 Ohio State 73, No. 2 UConn 61

Elite 8
Sunday’s results

Greenville 2 Regional

No. 3 LSU 54, No. 9 Miami 42

Seattle 2 Regional

No. 2 Iowa 97, No. 5 Louisville 83


Greenville 1 Regional

No. 1 South Carolina vs. No. 2 Maryland, 4 p.m., ESPN

Seattle 1 Regional

No. 1 Virginia Tech vs. No. 3 Ohio State, 6 p.m., ESPN


From Dan Woike: LeBron James stood at the scorer’s table midway through the first quarter early Sunday afternoon, furiously shaking chalk into his palms.

Around Crypto.com Arena, cameras came out to capture the moment as he threw the powder into the air.

He was back, the kind of thing that could change everything for the Lakers.

For one game, at least, it meant the Lakers’ momentum was going to come to an end.

The Lakers’ three-game winning streak was stopped Sunday by Chicago, the Bulls beating them 118-108.

Coming off the bench for just the second time in his career, James scored 19 points. Troy Brown Jr. and Malik Beasley each scored 18, while Dennis Schroder had 17 and Austin Reaves 13.

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‘He’s too small’: Patrick Beverley on his antics with LeBron James

Western Conference

Top six qualify for the playoffs. Nos. 7-10 qualify for tournament to determine final two playoff teams.

1. y-Denver Nuggets, 50-24
2. y-Memphis Grizzlies, 47-27, 3 GB
3. Sacramento Kings, 45-29, 5 GB
4. Phoenix Suns, 39-35, 11 GB
5. Clippers, 39-36, 11.5 GB
6. Golden State Warriors, 39-37, 12 GB
7. Minnesota Timberwolves, 38-37, 12.5 GB
8. New Orleans Pelicans, 37-37, 13 GB
9. Lakers, 37-38, 13.5 GB
10. Oklahoma City Thunder, 37-38, 13.5 GB
11. Dallas Mavericks, 36-39, 14.5 GB
12. Utah Jazz, 35-39, 15 GB
13. Portland Trail Blazers, 32-42, 18 GB
14. e-San Antonio Spurs, 19-56, 31.5 GB
15. e-Houston Rockets, 18-57, 32.5 GB

y-clinched division title; e-eliminated from playoff contention.


Viktor Arvidsson had two goals for the second straight game, Adrian Kempe also scored twice and the Kings extended their point streak to a franchise-record 12 games in a 7-6 win over the St. Louis Blues on Sunday night.

Alex Iafallo and Trevor Moore also scored during a five-goal first period and Drew Doughty scored for the third consecutive game to help the Kings run their record to 10-0-2 since their last regulation loss at the New York Rangers on Feb. 26.

Phillip Danault had three assists, Pheonix Copley made 16 saves and the Kings also completed their best homestand ever with a 5-0-2 mark in seven games.


From Sam Farmer: While teams around the NFL will push for rules modifications this week, the league will be examining the so-called “push play” itself.

It’s at the three-day annual meetings that the NFL considers tweaks to its rules and regulations, some proposed by teams and others by the competition committee.

This year’s agenda includes heightened scrutiny on the push play, used so effectively by the Philadelphia Eagles last season. Often, it’s a sneak in short-yardage situations, with a pair of players immediately behind the quarterback, each poised to push on his backside as soon as the ball is snapped.

While the league is looking at the play, it doesn’t mean a rules change is in the works. Rich McKay, chairman of the competition committee, said on a conference call last week that there’s no indication the play has led to more injuries and that there’s no consensus about changing the rule, which would require a three-quarters majority vote of the 32 teams.

There are nine potential rules changes proposed by teams. The Rams have proposed making roughing-the-passer penalties reviewable. The Chargers want the adjustment of the play clock following an instant-replay review to be consistent with other timing rules.

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From Bill Shaikin: The Angels could use a bit of swagger. They could use an October too.

Yes or no, Perry Minasian: Is this a playoff team?

“We’ll find out,” Minasian said.

Minasian, the Angels’ general manager, earned respect throughout the sport for a second consecutive winter of guiding owner Arte Moreno away from the brightest stars in the free-agent constellation and focusing instead on desperately needed depth.

No team in the major leagues has a longer playoff drought. This is the time to guarantee October.

Dave Roberts, the Dodgers’ manager, guaranteed a World Series last spring. The guarantee was not unfounded. It stirred interest, even if the Dodgers did not make it to the World Series. No harm done.

Come on, Perry Minasian, guarantee your long-suffering fans a postseason spot. The Angels’ attendance last season was their worst in 20 years.

“I’ve been around too long in this game,” he said. “You never know. I’m just not a guarantee person.”

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Mike Trout says WBC reminded him ‘how bad we want to get back to the playoffs’


From Mike DiGiovanna: The chip on his shoulder that fueled Max Muncy’s early years with the Dodgers — implanted during the month he spent out of baseball after being released by Oakland in 2017 — remains, though it has been reprogrammed.

Proving he belongs in the big leagues is no longer the main driver for Muncy, who established himself as a perennial All-Star by hitting at least 35 homers with an .889 on-base-plus-slugging percentage or more during each of his first three full seasons.

What’s motivating Muncy this spring is a burning desire to show he’s not the bum he suspects many felt he was last season, when his slow recovery from a left-elbow injury caused his swing to malfunction and his production to plummet.

“You feel like you get forgotten a little bit,” said Muncy, who had a career-worst .196 average, .713 OPS, 21 homers and 69 RBIs in 2022. “You have a bad year, and suddenly no one thinks you’re a good player anymore. So I feel like I have a lot to prove this year, and I like it that way. That’s how it’s been my whole career.”

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2023 MLB season preview: Complete coverage


From Kevin Baxter: With the exception of family and close friends, no one has seen more of Alyssa Thompson on a soccer field than Carlos Marroquin, her coach for four summers with the second-tier Santa Clarita Blue Heat.

And Marroquin said Angel City can expect a lot more of what Thompson showed Sunday, when she scored her team’s only goal while wreaking havoc all night in a season-opening 2-1 loss to Gotham FC in front of a sellout crowd of 22,000 at BMO Stadium.

“You will see an explosive player ready to rock,” he said. “Alyssa will be the leader at the front of the team.”

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From John Cherwa: UCLA basketball coach Mick Cronin is having a tough few days. On Thursday, the Bruins were eliminated in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament, and then on Sunday his trip to the Kentucky Derby was derailed by a couple of long shots in the $600,000 Sunland Derby.

Cronin is part of a 10-partner horse ownership consortium known as The Del Mar Group, which includes UCLA football coach Chip Kelly and St. John’s basketball coach Rick Pitino.

If his horse, Henry Q, had won the race he would have been given 50 Kentucky Derby qualifying points, which would be enough to make the starting field of 20 on the first Saturday in May.

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1939 — Oregon beats Ohio State 46-33 in the NCAA’s first national basketball tournament.

1942 — Joe Louis knocks out Abe Simon in the sixth round at Madison Square Garden to retain his world heavyweight title.

1945 — Oklahoma A&M beats New York University 49-45 for the NCAA basketball championship.

1951 — Bill Spivey scores 22 points to lead Kentucky to a 68-58 win over Kansas State for the NCAA basketball title.

1960 — The Boston Celtics score a then NBA Finals record 76 points in the first half a 140-122 win over the St. Louis Hawks. Tom Heinsohn (24), Bill Sharman (23), Frank Ramsey (22) and Bob Cousy (20) each score 20-or-more points to win the series opener.

1971 — UCLA beats Villanova 68-62 for its fifth NCAA basketball title.

1978 — Jack Givens scores 41 points to lead Kentucky to a 94-88 victory over Duke for the NCAA basketball title.

1983 — Larry Holmes wins a unanimous 12-round decision over Lucien Rodriguez to retain his world heavyweight title in his hometown of Scranton, Pa.

1988 — Brian Boitano (USA) wins Men’s Figure Skating Championship in Budapest.

1994 — Australian Greg Norman sets scoring record of 264 (−24) at the PGA Players Championship to finish 4 strokes ahead of runner-up Fuzzy Zoeller.

2005 — Annika Sorenstam shoots a final-round 68 to finish at 15-under to win the Nabisco Championship by eight shots over Rosie Jones. It’s he 59th victory of the Swedish star’s LPGA Tour career — and her eighth major championship win.

2010 — Long shot Al Shemali wins the $5 million Dubai Duty Free, pulling away from a crowded field to pull off a surprisingly easy win in the Dubai World Cup. Al Shemali, at 40-1, starts slow then duels it out with Bankable before taking the lead for good.

2011 — Jamie Skeen scores 26 points as Virginia Commonwealth delivers the biggest upset of the NCAA tournament, a 71-61 win over No. 1 seed Kansas in the Southwest Regional final.

2014 — The Philadelphia 76ers tie the NBA record for futility with their 26th straight loss, falling 120-98 to the Houston Rockets. Philadelphia matches the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers for the NBA’s worst skid.

2017 — UConn’s women’s basketball team advance to its 10th consecutive Final Four with a 90-52 victory against Oregon. The victory moves coach Geno Auriemma past Pat Summitt for the most NCAA Tournament victories at 113.

—Compiled by the Associated Press

And finally…

Virginia Commonwealth upsets Kansas in the 2011 tournament. Watch and listen here.

Until next time…

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.