The Aztecs' success is for real
Forget the rebuild: Steve Fisher's team looks more like a rewind of 2010-11
Coming into this season there were two things we thought we knew about the Mountain West Conference. One, the revamped 2011-12 edition of the league was saying goodbye to Brigham Young and hello to Boise State. And, two, in this new-look MWC the team that was going to garner the headlines and carry the league's banner deep into the NCAA tournament was UNLV.
The Runnin' Rebels may indeed live up to that billing, but at this point in the season there's a surprise team atop the league standings. Say hello to San Diego State.
Yes, the same San Diego State team that lost four starters from last season, including NBA first-round pick Kawhi Leonard. The Aztecs entered the season with less returning experience (as measured by possessions weighted by playing time) than any other Mountain West team. And while the Kentuckys and North Carolinas of the world can routinely offset any player departures with newly minted blue-chip recruits, SDSU didn't appear to have any big names entering the program this season. It looked like a recipe for a rebuilding year.
Instead, Aztecs coach Steve Fisher has whipped up his own concoction, one heavy on wins and light on the rebuild. SDSU enters this weekend's game at Colorado State sporting a gaudy 18-2 record (4-0 in the Mountain West). Incredibly, this young and still-developing team is currently projected by ESPN.com's Joe Lunardi as on-track for a No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament. If Fisher's team can perform at this level in a season when it's breaking in four new starters, are we seeing a new era of Aztecs dominance in the Mountain West? Or can SDSU's rivals learn from their example and copy their formula? Let's take a closer look at the surprising, young and thriving San Diego State Aztecs.
To see how the Aztecs have risen despite losing four starters, and get access to the analysis of Jay Bilas, Doug Gottlieb, Fran Fraschilla, Joe Lunardi and more, sign up for ESPN Insider.
Insider College Basketball
New on Insider
Lunardi: Pac-12 locked into 2 bids?
Player Rankings: Davis over Robinson for POY
Lunardi: Where UW, Northwestern fall
Hume: Bid thieves are few
Bilas: Sizing up the Big East
Gasaway: Pac-12 stronger than it seems
Hume: Best bets among bubble teams
Lunardi: VCU may be first bid thief
Ford: Time running out for 5 NBA prospects
Lunardi: How UConn, Texas, others earn bids
Lunardi: Latest look at the bubble
Fraschilla: Previewing Big 12 tournament
Bilas Index: UNC remains at No. 3
Pomeroy: Trends predict UNC-Duke clash
Lunardi: No No. 1 seed for Big Ten?
Player Rankings: Purdue's pivotal players
Ford: Will MKG, Cody Zeller stay in school?
Gasaway: Rebounding won't crush Orange
Telep: UCLA's top recruits remain committed
Bilas: How Michigan State can still improve
Bilas: Keys to the Hoyas' continued success
Lunardi: Watch out for NCAA bid thieves
Lunardi Rundown: Kentucky is No. 1 overall
Bilas Index: Kansas returns to the top five
Make smart bracket picks by spotting Cinderella early.
And don't forget these Insider mainstays:
Doug Gottlieb, Fran Fraschilla, Joe Lunardi and Jay Williams offer their opinions.
Insights from the mind of the College Gameday analyst.
The national recruiting analyst weighs in on news and rumors surrounding the top high school prospects.
Stay on top of all the latest recruiting buzz.
Every D-1 player's efficiency rating.