March Madness: 'Fearless' SDSU follow Muhammad Ali mantra to upset Alabama

By Sports Desk March 25, 2023

San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher hailed his "fearless" team as they defeated Alabama to book his first trip to the Elite Eight at the NCAA Tournament.

Dutcher is one of six coaches set for an Elite Eight debut this year, the most in a single season since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985.

None of the other five reached this stage in as spectacular fashion as Dutcher, however, as SDSU upset the number one overall seed 71-64 on Friday.

And Dutcher had a sporting great on his mind as he inspired his players in their unlikely win.

"I just tell the guys: nothing is going to be easy, so just keep playing our brand of basketball, keep doing your best, stay competitive," the coach said.

"And I'm using Muhammad Ali quotes because we're Louisville.

"We talked about confidence, and the key to confidence is being fearless, and I thought we were fearless tonight."

Dutcher does not want this to be the end of SDSU's run, though, adding: "When we recruit, we say our goal is to win a national championship, so we can't act surprised when we have an opportunity to advance to the Final Four.

"It's not just words we use to get them to come here. It's words we believe in."

Despite the disappointment of defeat, Alabama coach Nate Oats attempted to focus on the positives of the past year.

"I'll say it's one of the most memorable seasons ever," he said. "It's not easy to win the regular season, the SEC tournament in the same year and make a Sweet 16 run.

"It's a great group that really loves each other.They're going to be close for life, most of them.

"I love the group, they love each other, and it's just really disappointing that it's ending early.

"But I think it's one of the most memorable seasons in Alabama history, and they can walk out of here with their heads up."

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