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Gonzaga Hosts San Diego State As Part Of ESPN's Tip-Off Marathon

The ESPN College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon began last night at 9 p.m. PST with a great game between Miami and Memphis.

It will wind down tonight with Gonzaga hosting San Diego State at 8 p.m. PST on ESPN2/ESPN3. They put it on "late" in the marathon because it should be worth watching.

Game-by-game preview of the College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon - ESPN
San Diego State is the Mountain West favorite and a preseason AP Top 25 team, and the Aztecs are led by 6-foot-7 forward Kawhi Leonard, one of the players you might not have heard of but you should. Much is expected of SDSU, but the Aztecs are a program very much in the "prove it" phase, and there are few better opportunities to prove your quasi-mid-major bona fides than winning an early road game at the marquee mid-major program of the past decade-plus.

As you might expect, the folks over at SBN's Gonzaga site the Slipper Still Fits are excited about this one, as described by Max Mandel. 

The Season Really Begins: Zags host SDSU - The Slipper Still Fits
After two games that I would classify as borderline exhibitions, the Zags are finally ready to face their first teset when they welcome San Diego St. to the MAC. While I don't mean to take anything away from the teams at Southern University and IUPUI, this game against SDSU presents Gonzaga with a whole new level of challenge. The Aztecs were picked to win the Mountain West Conference, which is one of the elite mid-major conferences in the country. Not only do the Aztecs return talent, they also bring back experience, with all five starters returning to a team that is coming off an NCAA Tournament appearance last season.

SDSU Players To Watch:

Know your enemy: San Diego State - The Slipper Still Fits
D.J. Gay is the Aztecs deep threat and the guy the Aztecs want to take a three point shot when needed. In his opening game game against Long Beach State Gay scored 21 points and was 4-5 from three point range. Last season he shot 39 percent from beyond the arc, so he is a threat for the three ball. Plus, Gay is a Senior and can handle the pressure of this game. The other guard to watch is James Rahon who comes off the bench, but essentially plays starter minutes and can score.

Keys stat: offensive rebounding

The Bulldogs are a much superior offensive rebounding team, grabbing 54.7 percent of the available offensive rebounds compared to 36.4% for SDSU. Of course, these numbers are based on "borderline exhibition" competition as Mandel said but it's definitely something to watch as the two teams face one another.