Why San Diego State is a legit contender

San Diego State guard Xavier Thames is averaging 17.7 points per game this season. Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports

When Steve Fisher took over at San Diego State in 1999, the school simply had a basketball team. Now it boasts one of the best programs in the West. It has one of the elite home-court advantages in the nation and a tremendous sense of ownership from both its student body and community.

Fisher and his staff have done a great job evaluating and recruiting tough, hard-nosed players who defend and rebound. This season’s No. 6 Aztecs are no different from the recent Kawhi Leonard and Jamaal Franklin teams, and they are once again poised to receive a high seed and make a run in the NCAA tournament.

Up next for the 22-2 Aztecs will be a tough test against Utah State on Tuesday night (11 ET, ESPNU/WatchESPN). What can the Aggies expect to face?

Here's an examination of SDSU's key strengths followed by a breakdown of its roster and NCAA tourney outlook.