REBOUNDING: San Diego State outrebounds its foes 37.1 to 30.4, a margin of 6.7 per game. Tennessee outrebounds its foes 36.7 to 36.0, a margin of just .7. The Aztecs are especially tough on the offensive board. ADVANTAGE: San Diego State.
"They rank 13th in the country in rebounding and eighth in offensive rebounding," UT coach Bruce Pearl notes. "They average 14 offensive rebounds per game, and they get 46 percent of their missed field goals. That's almost half of their misses, so obviously keeping them off the boards is paramount."
TURNOVER MARGIN: San Diego State committed 443 turnovers in 33 games this season while forcing 442. Also playing 33 games, Tennessee committed just six fewer turnovers (437) but forced 111 more (553). ADVANTAGE: Tennessee.
FIELD-GOAL DEFENSE: Aztec opponents shot 40.5 percent from the field and 34.7 percent from 3, while averaging 61.8 points per game. Vol opponents shot 39.4 from the field and 29.3 from 3, while averaging 64.9 points per game. ADVANTAGE: Tennessee.
MOMENTUM: Tennessee has won seven of its last 10 games. San Diego State has won nine of its last 10. Tennessee is coming off a 29-point loss to Kentucky in the SEC semifinals, whereas San Diego State is coming off a 10-point defeat of UNLV on the Running Rebels' home floor in the Mountain West Conference tournament finals. ADVANTAGE: San Diego State.
"San Diego State is playing great right now," Pearl says. "They're playing their best basketball of the year at the right time. Going into the SEC Tournament we were playing our best basketball of the year. We did not play (well) in the tournament and obviously San Diego State did, so I think they come in with even greater momentum."
EXPERIENCE: Not one current San Diego State player participated when the Aztecs competed in the 2006 NCAA Tournament. Conversely, UT's Wayne Chism has played in three NCAA tourneys, J.P. Prince and Brian Williams in two each, Scotty Hopson, Bobby Maze, Cameron Tatum and Renaldo Woolridge in one each. ADVANTAGE: Tennessee.
"It's an advantage for the guys that have been there," Pearl says, "but I have a couple of guys (Kenny Hall, Melvin Goins) that are making it for the first time and four guys (Hopson, Maze, Tatum, Woolridge) that are making it for the second time. It won't be a huge advantage."
MOTIVATION: Tennessee's players are angry about being a 6 seed and being pegged a first-round "upset special" by several national TV analysts. Coming off that humiliating loss to Kentucky, the Vols have a chip on their shoulders and a lot to prove. They tend to play their best in that situation. ADVANTAGE: Tennessee.