Tag Archives: Colorado State March Madness

Did Colorado State Deserve a Better Seed and a Better Matchup?

Welcome to the initial posting of Tuesdays With Mitch. This will be a little different than the old blog. New name, new format and a new commitment with a post each Tuesday. Enough about that, we have a lot to get to. Let’s jump in.

Colorado State fans were pretty darn upset on Selection Sunday for a variety of reasons. Here’s why:

The Colorado State Rams have an understandably subdued reaction upon seeing themselves as an 8-seed. Aaron Ontiveroz, Denver Post

The Colorado State Rams have an understandably subdued reaction upon seeing themselves announced as an 8-seed. Aaron Ontiveroz, Denver Post

Let’s start at the beginning. Once the selection committee has determined who will be in the field, they rank each of the teams from 1-68. That list is here. We’ll leave it at that for now.

The Rams came in at number 30 on the committee’s list, giving them an 8-seed. Here’s a link to the bracket, which you’ll probably want to reference. That #30 means that the committee felt CSU was the second best of the four 8-seeds.

Should they have been ranked higher? Let’s take a look. Here’s the list of the teams that make up seeds 7-9:

Seeds 7-9

cbssports.com

I’ll quickly breakdown each of the 5 teams ranked ahead of CSU. Keep in mind the things the committee looks at most closely are good wins, bad losses and RPI. Feel free to skim over some of the specifics if you’re not particularly interested in the details. I’ll start with CSU’s numbers for reference:

Colorado State — RPI: 18. Versus RPI top 100 11-7. Sub-100 losses: 1.

Creighton  RPI: 25. Versus RPI top 100: 10-5. Sub-100 losses: 2.

They Jays have a couple top 50 neutral-court wins, something the Rams do not have. The RPI is pretty close. Their worst loss is to Drake (RPI 144). The Rams worst loss is to UIC (169). Overall, having Creighton ranked ahead of CSU is reasonable.

San Diego State — RPI: 32. Versus RPI top 100: 8-10. Sub-100 losses: 0.

This one is going to take up a bit more space, as it has CSU fans the most upset, mainly because the Aztecs went 9-7 in the Mountain West, where the Rams went 11-5. Indeed, this is the most egregious/puzzling/enraging of the seeding scenarios.

A quote from Andy Glockner, who does a bracket projection and just about everything else college basketball for si.com. From his Monday column:

“The good thing about the Mountain West is it played a double round-robin schedule, so it’s pretty easy to see who was better in league play. Colorado State finished 11-5, a game ahead of UNLV and two games ahead of San Diego State, yet the Rams ended up 30th on the seed curve, somehow four spots behind the Aztecs and a crazy 12 spots behind UNLV. I know nonconference play matters, too, but what did UNLV and San Diego State do that was so great to overcome the league performance by such a significant magnitude? That made no sense.”

Well put, Andy. When asked for some explanation by Fort Collins Coloradoan beat writer Matt Stephens, committee chair Mike Bobinski mentioned the nonconference play of the two teams. From that report:

“Our conversations at the end of the day about those two teams were that San Diego State had a nice neutral-court win over UCLA, beat Indiana State, which is a pretty good team and did just enough things for us to put them slightly ahead of Colorado State,” Bobinski said. “Colorado State’s non-conference wins didn’t really feature anything over teams in the tournament, where as San Diego State at least had that.”

In other words, “Ummm I really have no idea how that happened. Sometimes we just screw up and there’s no reasonable explanation for that at all.” I have so many issues with Bobinski’s stupid explanation I don’t know where to start. He apparently forgot that CSU did, in fact, have a nonconference win over Montana, a 13-seed in this year’s tourney. He gives credence to the Aztecs’ neutral court win over Indiana State (RPI 72). Apparently CSU’s nonconference road win over Denver (RPI 65) doesn’t count as much as that one. So a neutral court win over a decent-but-mostly-mediocre UCLA team (RPI 26) gets SDSU ranked four spots ahead of CSU, despite 3 fewer top 100 wins, a 14-spot differential in the teams’ own RPI rankings, and a 2-game difference in the conference standings with a perfectly balanced schedule? Just lunacy.

Notre Dame — RPI: 35. Versus RPI top 100: 9-9. Sub-100 losses: 0.

The Irish have two fewer top 100 wins, but they have two top 13 wins. CSU’s best is 22. ND’s worst loss is 94. Their RPI, however, is almost twice as high as the Rams’, so I’d call this one a coin flip, or a slight nudge in CSU’s favor. Crazy to think a brand name like Notre Dame would win a close call over a brand name like Colorado State.

Illinois — RPI: 40. Versus RPI top 100: 7-10. Sub-100 losses: 2.

Apparently the committee can just brush aside the supposedly important RPI factor when it feels like it. The Illini have a bit of a different profile. Good wins– 3 in top 10– clearly carried them to a 7-seed. There’s four fewer top 100 wins and one more bad loss. Oh, and that enormous RPI discrepancy. I’d call this one pretty much a coin flip again. The profile depends on what kind of criteria one puts the most stock into.

North Carolina — RPI: 17. Versus RPI top 100: 9-9. Sub-100 losses: 1.

These profiles are incredibly similar. Both teams’ best wins are home to UNLV. Both played 10 games vs. top 50 teams (CSU went 3-7; UNC went 2-8). Both played 8 games vs. 51-100 teams (CSU went 8-0; UNC went 7-1). The RPI is a virtual tie (.6185 to .6182). And both teams have one sub-100 loss. I would guess the committee gave the nod to UNC because they’re playing better in recent games. That is, of course, assuming that brand names and conference affiliations and traditions don’t come into play.

Pierce Hornung and the Rams received a tough draw in every regard in this year's NCAA Tournament. Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Pierce Hornung and the Rams received a tough draw in every regard in this year’s NCAA Tournament. Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

So of the five teams ranked immediately ahead of Colorado State, my scorecard reads one correct, one outrageously ridiculous and horrible, and three 50/50 calls, all three of which went against the Rams to tradition-rich programs with huge fan bases.

If I’m coming off sounding like a whiney fan, I apologize, but facts are facts. Another national writer, Jason Lisk, who does great work on The Big Lead gave me a little ammo Monday as well.

Discussing teams that were seeded lower than their RPI would have indicated he said, “Colorado State is probably the only one with a complaint if we view it from a ‘RPI, adjusted slightly for who you beat scenario’. They dropped below (UNLV) and were seeded four spots lower than (San Diego State).”

Hopefully I’ve made it clear that the boys from Fort Collins simply deserved a better seed than the one they received.

You still with me? Good, because I’m not done.

Now let’s look at the match up. Because this has me equally befuddled.

The Rams are heading across the country to play in Lexington. Should they get past a very good Missouri team, they face Louisville, the tournament’s number one overall seed. In theory, this should be designated for the fourth (or worst) 8-seed. Remember, the Rams are the second 8-seed. Since that was a tough draw, hopefully the committee made up for it by giving CSU a favorable location, right? Nope.

The other 8-9 locations are Dayton, Salt Lake City and Kansas City. Lexington and Dayton are about an 18 hour drive from Fort Collins (according to Google Maps). SLC is 7; KC is 9.

This is where things get complicated, and I’m no Joe Lunardi. But looking at the bracket, it would appear to make much more sense to simply swap out Colorado State and the team immediately behind them in the seed list, Pittsburgh. This would send the Panthers to play Missouri in Lexington and CSU to Salt Lake to play Wichita State. These games obviously make more sense because of location, but it also makes sense based on the seed list.

For some reason Colorado State plays the first 9-seed in Missouri (33 on the list) in the round of 64 even though they’re the second 8-seed. If you’re wondering, Columbia, Missouri is about a seven hour drive to Lexington, or 11 hours shorter than from Fort Collins. Oh yeah, if they get past that game they have the tourney’s number one overall seed waiting for them in a home game.

None of this makes any sense.

Unless I’m missing something, and I don’t see any conference or rematch conflicts, going to Salt Lake to play Wichita State with Gonzaga awaiting the winner makes infinitely more sense than what CSU is stuck with. And, based on the (incorrect) seed list, the Rams have earned as much.

So your Colorado State Rams got a tough draw based on the seeding, the location, the opponent, and the potential second round opponent. That’s all.

It’s really a shame, because these seniors have worked so hard for the past four (or five) years to get to this moment, and this year they’ve earned much better than this scenario. Hopefully all this puts a chip on the Rams’ shoulder, and I’m one guy thinking it would not be particularly wise to count this team out now.

Off the court, these dudes just can’t win. Here’s to hoping things are different on the court.

OTHER STUFF FROM AROUND THE WEB

Here’s JaVale McGee doing something ridiculous on a basketball court:

This could be a weekly installment. And no, I don’t know what to call that play either. And yes, the Nuggets are pretty darn good. So are the Heat though, so what’s the point?

What are your thoughts on Dick Vitale? The Wall Street Journal had an interesting profile of the polarizing broadcaster last week. It’s recommended reading. Personally, I love Dickie V. His passion for college basketball is unrivaled and I think his goofy mannerisms and dumb catch phrases have become as much a part of the sport as reviewing clock issues in the last minute of games. I literally laugh out loud every time he says, “How do you miss that? I ONLY GOT ONE EYE AND I COULD SEE IT!” Dick is a surprisingly good follow on twitter, but only if you– and I’m serious about this– read each tweet in your best Dickie V voice. And really, he’s just a great dude who absolutely loves people. That’s a quality characteristic. His passionate work in raising money for the Jimmy V foundation is also very important. What do you think? Are you hitting the mute button or laughing along with me?

March Madness kinda-sorta starts tonight, so why not?

Gus is the best. It’s a travesty he no longer calls the tournament.

This one doesn’t need much explanation: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Xo2MQtqD3zk

Throw it down big man! (Found that on Jimmy Traina’s twitter. @JimmyTraina)

Apparently there’s like 20 different versions of these commercials. After much deliberation I’ve decided they’re pretty funny.

Able. Bodied. Athleticism. They may or may not be attempting to appeal to rednecks with these.

I really enjoyed the latest 30 for 30, “Survive and Advance” about Jim Valvano and the unlikely tournament run of the 1983 North Carolina State team. It was a well done look at a truly incredible man and a truly incredible season. I’d probably rank it as one of the best three or four films in the documentary series. You feel something special when you watch a bunch of teammates sitting around a table reminiscing about such historic developments 30 years later. Search for it in your DVR and set aside a couple hours, you’ll thank me later. If you don’t tear-up you’re more of a man than me.

Here’s a fascinating non-sports feature from the New York Times Magazine. This dude’s a world renowned physicist, but he makes Manti Te’o look like a genius.

This is what Marshall Henderson looked like after winning the SEC Tournament Championship:

Marshall-Henderson1

[via @denzelnkemdiche]

If you know anything about Marshall Henderson, this picture isn’t much of a surprise.

And finally, only one bracket please. I could write a whole post about this, but if you fill out more than one bracket you’re doing it wrong. If you called that sweet 13 over 4 upset in “your other bracket” I do not want to hear about it. It doesn’t count. When you fill out a bracket, you should be making a confident attempt at perfection. There’s only one perfect bracket.

Comment below, or email me at mdhahn1@yahoo.com with post ideas, videos or other media I should know about. Follow me on Twitter @MitchDHahn

Happy Tuesday everybody.

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The Evolution of Moby, Court-Rushing Etiquette, The Biggest Game in Years and Other Thoughts Regarding CSU Basketball

The following will be a long, meandering post regarding the state of Colorado State basketball.

Let’s start with my experience at Moby Arena last Wednesday night. No, actually let’s start with when I became a regular at The Whale. I started going to CSU games on the reg my freshman year which was… let me think here, the 2006-2007 season. That team was actually pretty decent for a while. Jason Smith was first-team all Mountain West. I remember a couple games with decent crowds and good energy that year. Upsets of BYU and a Bob Huggins-coached Kansas State team jump out in my memory. The season peaked when CSU received one tally in the “others receiving votes” column of the national rankings. While that’s all well and good, things kind of fell apart from that moment on– not just for the season, but for the program as a whole. Dale Layer was fired. Smith entered the NBA draft. Everyone else on the team transferred somewhere. Some dude from North Dakota State was hired to coach. He went 0-16 his first year in the Mountain West. I was at most of those home games.

Tim Miles vs. Air Force

Tim Miles plays a little defense in a win against Air Force. Miles has led an impressive transformation of a downtrodden program. AP Photo.

My overall memory of Moby Arena in my time as a student do not contain the words Madness, Magic or Maniacs. What I remember is the student sections (Yes CSU splits the student section in two, which is dumb) usually filling about halfway up.

I remember the big scoreboard that had to be as old as my parents. There was no state-of-the-art videoboards. That meant no pregame video introductions. No replays. No speeches from Ron Burgundy. The damn thing was missing about 20 percent of its light bulbs and every five minutes would advertise snacks at the concession stands by flashing the words “NACHOS!” or “HOT DOGS!”. When it wasn’t doing that, it was providing some 1960s-quality animation of a cheerleader jumping up and down or flashing the word “NOISE” to the 1,800 people there. Hard to believe that technique wasn’t all that effective.

One game (I wanna say Utah, junior year) a friend and I were debating on whether or not to go; we didn’t. At halftime, CSU was surprisingly only a couple points down, so we decided what the hell, let’s catch the second half. We walked up during halftime and sat– literally– in the front row of the student section. The Rams lost. That was a common occurrence. When my friends and I joke that we are martyrs who went through four years of pain for the good of future students, we’re only half joking.

Fast forward to this season’s home finale. #17 UNLV. Wednesday. 8 p.m. I drove up from North Denver even though I had to work south of Denver early the next morning, meaning I would not being staying somewhere in FoCo and there would be no drinking. (Yes, in my day, the uncompetiveness of CSU turned many a game into nothing more than an excuse to party, which was welcome for my group of friends. I also realize uncompetiveness is not a word). Anyway, I picked up my longtime CSU-diehard friend and we hoped for the best. We didn’t try to acquire free student tickets using our old student IDs or talking to the slew of friends who are still up there. We treated this one like real-life alumni, CSU polos and all. (If you didn’t know, nothing says “alumni” of any college like a polo).

I’ve been to a few games after graduation. I saw Air Force this year in a mellow blowout. Last season it was BYU and San Diego State, both sellouts, both losses. The SDSU game was probably the biggest heartbreaker of my CSU career. There was a noticeable difference in the atmosphere and electricity for those games last year. But even those were nothing compared to Wednesday night. The student sections were packed over capacity and they were good and drunk and very loud and very into the game. It was great to see. The non-student crowd was pumped too, well, they were until UNLV started dominating.

Vegas was up 15 at halftime and it appeared the Mitch-Hahn-Big-Game-CSU-Curse was in full effect. When the Rebels went up 16 with under 17 minutes to play. I tapped my friend’s shoulder and said, “Let me know when you’re ready to go.”

Then the Rams flipped a switch and all hell broke loose. The entire near-sellout crowd was on its feet for the last 12 minutes of the fierce comeback. The student sections were doing their thing where they simply jump in rhythm to a hip-hop or techno song. That sounds a little lame, but it is freaking awesome. Stuff like that did not exist when I was there, much as I tried. The night culminated with this:

.

Tim Miles, who is never afraid to flash a big smile, celebrates after beating UNLV at a raucous Moby Arena Wednesday night. AP Photo.

Moby Arena, you’ve come a long way.

That said, there’s still plenty of room for growth. In that video did you notice the students rushing the court? No? Well they did. It was the fourth time this season. FOURTH TIME! Colorado, SDSU, New Mexico and UNLV.

Okay before you get upset with me over what is apparently a sensitive topic, hear me out. I have no problem with the CSU fans rushing the court after beating UNLV. They completed a 16-point comeback against the #17 team in the country. The win had huge implications on the possibility of postseason play. Standing alone, there was nothing wrong Wednesday night’s celebration.

But just think if that was the first time the students rushed the court this year. How much more special would that have been? Now you might ask me, “So we’re only allowed to rush the court once a season?” Well, I don’t make the rules, but if I did I would say no.

You should rush the court less than once a season.

While we’re on the topic of student sections– and remember I was pumped to see how the CSU students came out and acted on Wednesday– there was a couple things that made me roll my eyes. Chanting “F***-The-Reb-els” is stupid. It just is. The vulgarity is stupid, but really, the fact that a 6th-grader could come up with a more creative chant is what bothers me. Not to worry though, because that was followed up with a “Rebels suck” chant when UNLV was up by like 14 points. Come on. I don’t think it takes a genius to see the stupidity in that.

Okay, I mentioned the possibility of postseason play earlier, allow me to elaborate on that. After the UNLV win Wednesday and handling Air Force on Saturday, most bracket projections have CSU in the tournament and most even removed them from their “Last 4 In” category. So, yes as it stands right now the Colorado State Rams are in the tournament. The thing is, the season is not quite over.

Jesse Carr vs. Duke

A tough schedule, including a game at Duke, has the CSU Rams ready to play in the NCAA tournament. Check out this video of Jesse Carr throwing it down on SportsCenter. Photo Courtesy Gary Brooome/AP.

The Rams play TCU Thursday at 3:30 in Las Vegas in the opening round of the Mountain West tournament. Lose that one, and Selection Sunday might not be much fun. TCU took CSU to double overtime in Fort Collins, then beat the Rams in Fort Worth, so this game is no gimmie. The Horned Frogs are a surprisingly athletic team and Hank Thorns was recently named All-Mountain West. I would guess CSU will be about 2 point favorites, but one would have to hope the Rams come out and preform well knowing the win-and-we’re-almost-for-sure-in situation. If CSU gets by TCU, they will (probably) play San Diego State in the semis. If I were a betting man, which I am, I would take CSU in this one. The Rams have played the Aztecs very, very tough in splitting the season series. A win against SDSU makes the Rams a lock.

I’m getting ahead of myself here. Forget anything I said about a second round matchup. Beat TCU on Thursday, and the Rams are probably gunna go dancing. Lose, and head to the NIT. That makes Thursday’s game the biggest CSU basketball game since 2003 when Matt Nelson and company lost to Duke in the first round of the NCAAs.

(By the way… please don’t ask me if winning the NIT would be better than getting into the tournament and losing in the first round. Screw that. You play all season with the hope of lacing ’em up in The Big Dance with the nation watching. You’re not dreaming about playing Northwestern or Iona on a Wednesday night).

Ram fans have good reason to be reluctant to get their hopes up, but Tim Miles’ scrappy bunch has proved to be resilient and tough over the course of this season. So here’s hoping they come up big this week, win a game or two, and realize their dream of playing in the NCAA tournament. Not just for the players, but for all the fans who remember the boring games, the empty arena, the losses and that damn scoreboard.

Dorian Green, Wes Eikmeier, Greg Smith. Photo courtesy,  Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Juniors Dorian Green, Greg Smith and All-Mountain West Wes Eikmeier have had plenty of reasons to smile this season. Photo courtesy Ethan Miller/Getty Images.