San Diego State's mens basketball team is 1-0 and still ranked 25th in the nation. If they're still in the Top-25 by Thanksgiving, they will have definitely earned it.
The Aztecs open the season with five straight road games, the first time they've done that in 25 years. SDSU plays three straight in Ohio over the weekend, but it's Tuesday night's game that will really be their litmus test. The Aztecs are in Spokane, WA, to face the 12th-ranked and always dangerous Gonzaga Bulldogs.
By the way, let's just get this straight right now. It's not pronounced Gon-Zah-ga, like "Open up and say AAAHHH." It's pronounced Gon-Zag-a, like it rhymes with bag. The fact people who follow college basketball haven't gotten that right by now is staggering.
OK, back to the issue at hand. The Bulldogs are ranked 12th in the country, having dispatched their first two opponents by 45 and 31 points. Gonzaga is especially dangerous on their home floor, which is basically a glorified high school gym. McCarthey Athletic Center only holds 6,000 people, but they're packed in standing room only and are basically right on top of the floor screaming at you the entire game. If San Diego State can win in that environment, they'll prove they're not just one of the best teams in the nation, but they have what it takes to win in an arena they've never conquered ... the NCAA Tournament.
They have the horses to do it. Three senior starters (Malcolm Thomas, Billy White and D.J. Gay) join super Sophomores Kawhi Leonard and Chase Tapley in the starting lineup, and Steve Fisher has more depth on the bench this season that he has in recent years. Fish is just one win shy of 200 for his Aztecs career. Getting it in eastern Washington would be a perfect metaphor for how he's turned this program around.
One other fun little note: San Diego State is ranked 15th in the nation in Playboy magazine's annual poll. Not as a party school, as a basketball program. Number 25 on that list is BYU. Something tells me the Cougars won't be sending that out on any press releases.