If I may divert your attention away from football and our tightly contested quest for another Mountain West division title, we do have a full season of bouncy hoops on the horizon. Many questions about this team remain unanswered.
How will the newcomers fit into coach Fisher’s rotation? Will Jeremy Hemsley make the proverbial jump from promising freshman to dominant sophomore? Could Zylan Cheatham lob an alley-oop so high that even he, himself could not slam it down?
But even above all those is: which road trips should fans be planning? Between Fresno, Albuquerque, Reno, Phoenix and Honolulu, there are a lot fun and exciting places to develop a crippling addiction to crystal meth with the locals. Not to mention the big city excitement of Chicago, Las Vegas and Logan, Utah.
Here are your potential Aztec basketball road trips, ranked worst to best:
15) San Jose State – Tuesday, Feb. 7
I know we have a lot of SDSU alums in the Bay Area. So if you happen to be a short BART ride to Cal Train to VTA train away from an Uber ride to the historic Event Center Arena, then sure, knock yourself out. But anyone who takes time off work to fly and attend this game needs help.
14) Nevada – Wednesday, Jan. 4
Nevada is probably going to be the Aztecs’ biggest challenger for the Mountain West title this season. And the arena actually gets pretty raucous when the team is good. But the new year is for resolutions to improve yourself and live a better life. Here’s a good start: Do something other than hanging out in Reno on a Wednesday night.
13) Fresno State – Saturday, Feb. 4
Fuck Fresno State. We definitely owe them one. We lost just three MW basketball games last year and two of them were to the Bulldogs. But no amount of vengeance is worth spending a weekend in Fresno.
12) Utah State – Wednesday, Feb. 15
“Hey, honey. I’ve got something special in store for Valentine’s Day this year! No, not that new restaurant downtown. That’s right, we’re spending it driving from Salt Lake City to Logan where we’ll be surrounded by pasty, sexually repressed adolescents who vent their frustration by stealing chants from The Show! … Hey, where are you going? … WELL AT LEAST IT’S NOT FRESNO.”
11) Air Force – Tuesday, Jan. 24
Colorado Springs is beautiful and I’ve been told the campus is a sight to behold. But if I’m spending time in Colorado in the dead of winter I’m doing it to shred some gnar pow, not watch a basketball team that’s relevant once a decade.
10) Loyola (Chicago) – Saturday, Dec. 3
I recently spent a weekend in Chicago and while my liver still hasn’t fully recovered, it was a fantastic time. The only reason this is ranked so low is for the cost and inconvenience of flying across the country to see us play a team that finished No. 239 in the RPI rankings last year. Also, if the Cubs win the World Series, there is a good chance the city will still be completely shut down at that point.
9) Boise State – Saturday, Jan. 7
Taco Bell Arena is no Blue Turf.
8) New Mexico – Saturday, Mar. 4
Normally, any trip to The Pit would be a worthy excursion. That should be on any college basketball fan’s (much less MWC basketball fan’s) bucket list. But this is the last regular season game of the year and the Lobos will be locking up that play-in game against San Jose State. Sure you’ll still probably get shanked with a screwdriver and urinated on, but it’s just not the same in a mostly-empty arena.
7) Grand Canyon (Phoenix) – Wednesday, Dec. 7
Ah, GCU. The South Alabama of basketball. I know flying out to the desert to a for-profit university that may or may not actually exist seems ominous. But the mighty alley-oopin’ Antelopes low-key have a sort of awesome in-game environment. I mean look at this shit! Those kids are straight up raging, which is great for them, considering they’re putting themselves into crippling debt to get a degree from an institution that could lose accreditation at any time. Go ‘Lopes!
Also, NO, YOUTUBE. I ABSOLUTELY DID NOT.
6) UNLV – Tuesday, Jan. 17
At a certain point, rolling into the Thomas & Mack Center, trolling the 17 people in the student section and chanting “THIS IS OUR HOUSE” as two more players transfer out of the program at halftime gets kind of old. On the plus side, on a Tuesday night in January, you can get a room at the Hard Rock for less than the price of an e-coli shrimp cocktail.
5) Diamond Head Classic – Dec. 22, 23 and 25
Once again, cost and convenience is the only reason this isn’t higher. Christmas time on the islands, getting into the whole mele kalikimaka spirit with the SDSU Hawaiian Shirt crew is a fine trip if you can afford it. But for the rest of us, we’ll happily wrestle the remote away from our relatives on Christmas Day to get the championship game on TV. I’m sure our aunts and uncles will have respectful, insightful things to say about young athletes with tattoos!
4) Colorado State – Saturday, Feb. 25
Maybe it’s just me, but Rams basketball is a secondary attraction to the greater Fort Collins area.
3) Gonzaga – Monday, Nov. 14
A trip to Spokane on a Monday may SEEM like a chore. And you would be right! But this is probably our shot to get our best possible “signature win” come March. Plus, they haven’t lost a single home game since Billy White and Kawhi Leonard slapped them around up there back in 2010. Please do not look that up as it is probably not true.
2) Cal (in Sacramento) – Monday, Nov. 21
Again, these weekday games are tough. But this is this is the week of Thanksgiving and you were probably already taking some time off anyway. You might as well make the short trip to see us play in the brand new NBA arena. I can just about guarantee SDSU will have more fans than the Golden Bears. I can definitely guarantee the Aztec fans will be louder. Remember when The Show punked them in their own arena? That was a good time.
1) Mountain West Tournament – Mar. 9-11
Still the unquestioned top of the list. Just a few hours up the road gets you multiple games against mostly bad teams with dozens of opposing fans in the crowd. Seriously, ever since New Mexico started sucking again, the Mack has become a bit of a ghost town during this weekend, save for the Aztec fans who trickle in as the tourney goes on. You know we haven’t won this thing since 2011? Good God. Please show up and help us avoid six-straight years of not cutting down UNLV’s nets. It’s all I really want.
NOTABLY ABSENT – Wyoming
Praise to sweet merciful Craig Thompson for Laramie being the trip we’re spared from this year. SDSU teams have a proud decades-long history of losing games at Wyoming and I’m sick of barrel man sending me those taunting Snap Chat pictures.