Tag Archives: CSU Basketball

March Is Coming; What You Need To Know About Colorado State Basketball

Welcome to the 98th edition of Tuesdays With Mitch, where the dog days of winter are slowly dragging on. Does winter have dog days? Is that a thing? Whatever. Let’s get into it…

J.J. Avila has been Colorado State’s most consistent player all year long. (Erin Hull, Coloradoan)

It’s late February, which means not much is going on in the sports world. And while we may be stuck in one of the slower times on the sports calendar, it’s also the best time to jump in on the national college basketball scene. While there is nothing better than March Madness, college basketball at the end of February is pretty damn good too. We are in the middle of crunch time. The nation’s top teams are fighting for NCAA Tournament seeding and conference championships. Bubble teams are fighting just to be included in the Big Dance.

In Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region, only one team has a shot to receive an at-large bid to the tourney. And that team is the Colorado State Rams, who should be going dancing for the third time in four years. So let’s break down what you need to know about CSU with Selection Sunday just 19 days away.

The Rams began their season with the best start in program history. After finishing their non conference slate undefeated, they won their first Mountain West game to make them 14-0. They’re currently 23-5 (10-5 in the Mountain West) with three games remaining on the regular season schedule. The last few games are all winnable. After hosting San Jose State (terrible) tomorrow night, the Rams travel to Nevada (bad) and Utah State (decent). The Utah State game will be tough (it’s Stew Morrill’s last game before retirement), but a 26-5 record is within reach. That would be the most wins in program history and make CSU all but a lock for the tournament. Indeed, Larry Eustachy is getting the most out of his talent… again.

Colorado State’s roster is full of transfers, led by two seniors in Daniel Bejerano and J.J. Avila. Bejerano is a 6’5″ guard who transferred from Arizona after his freshman year four years ago, making him the last connection the Rams have to the Tim Miles era. He’s about as athletic a shooting guard as you’ll see in the Mountain West and one of the better rebounding guards in recent memory. Bejerano is probably the most talented player on the Rams, but is too often an inconsistent shooter. Eustachy is cool with that and gives Bejerano an eternal green light from behind the arc. (Bejerano has the most three point attempts on the team and is shooting a decent 37.6 percent from deep.)

Daniel Bejerano’s sometimes streaky play is key as the Rams head to the postseason. Erin Hull, Coloradoan

The way I see it, Bejerano will be the key to success for the Rams in the Mountain West tournament and the Big Dance. When he is making his threes and controlling the offense, CSU becomes very difficult to beat and can look dominant. When he’s not– as has often been the case in conference road games– the Rams’ offense can completely stall and be painful to watch.

Avila is a burly 6’8″ 250 pound forward who looks a little bit like Mr. Incredible. Avila transferred from the Naval Academy after his sophomore year. Though Bejerano is more athletically gifted, Avila has been the Rams’ best player this year. When Avila gets the ball in the low block, it’s fun as hell to watch him go to work. He utilizes crafty footwork, angles, pump fakes, spins and a three-inch vertical leap to make weird-ass shots on a regular basis. Avila does it all. His averages on the year (rounded): 17 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, while shooting 55 percent from the floor. His consistent play all season is the biggest reason the Rams are 23-5.

The Rams lead the Mountain West in scoring at  73 points per game, which is a bunch in the current college basketball environment. Looking at KenPom’s* advanced statistics, the Rams have one of the nation’s better offenses (46th in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency) paired with a below average defense (147th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency). They play at an above average pace (51st in Adjusted Tempo), which makes for more pleasant viewing than a lot of good team’s in today’s college basketball world.

*I think the top-heavy Mountain West and general awfulness of the lower-tier teams has jerked with kenpom’s numbers a bit this season. His formula has the Rams ranked 68th overall, quite a bit lower than several other metrics.

Most bracket predictions have CSU somewhere around a 10-seed right now. But of course, those predictions are fluent and change on a regular basis. So how will the rest of this season play out for Colorado State? Probably better than this worst case scenario, and worse than this best case scenario.

Worst Case (Realistic) Scenario: The Rams beat San Jose State comfortably tomorrow night because San Jose State is one of the worst teams I’ve ever seen, but stumble and lose in Reno to a bad Nevada team. They follow that up with a loss at Utah State and finish the year 24-7 and in fifth place in the Mountain West. They win one game in the Mountain West tournament but lose in the second round. Selection Sunday comes and goes without the Rams’ name being called. The excitement and promise from earlier in the year turns out to be completely for naught. The Rams are a fairly high seed in the N.I.T., but nobody cares.

Best Case (Realistic) Scenario:  The Rams win their final three regular season games to finish 26-5. With some help from Boise State and Wyoming they finish second in the Mountain West standings. Behind another impressive three-point shooting performance, they beat San Diego State in the Mountain West tournament championship, moving them to 29-5. On Selection Sunday they learn the committee has rewarded them with a 6-seed. In the Big Dance they beat an 11-seed (think Purdue or UCLA) and then upset a 3-seed (think North Carolina or Utah in Las Vegas Bowl revenge) to reach the Sweet 16 and move them to 31-5. The magic comes to an end during the tournament’s second weekend when the Rams finally go down to a more athletic and more talented 2-seed.

I don’t know what the future holds for the Rams, but I do know the college basketball bandwagon has plenty of room and it’s officially time for you to jump on. Around these parts, the team in Fort Collins is reason enough to hop on board.

Off to the weekly departments…

Stud of the week:

NBC

“Parks and Recreation”, one of the great comedies of all time, comes to an end tonight after seven seasons. “Parks and Rec” never really caught on for mainstream audiences like “The Office” did, but is probably a better show in its totality. Some people think the reason “Parks and Rec” never blew up is the first season wasn’t as good as the next six. I think the show was simply too different (smart) to appeal to broad (dumb) audiences like “Two and Half Men” or “The Big Bang Theory”, but not raunchy or obscure enough to find a niche like “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.”

I’ve never seen another show that could be so sweet, genuine, warm, fuzzy, cute, and sincere at the same time as being uproariously funny, bizarre, quick, smart, absurd, and hilarious. Here’s my guy Alan Sepinwall:

In the end, it is one of the best comedies TV has ever seen, and one that stands out from so much of the great shows of this new Golden Age of Television because its default emotion was joy when so many of this era’s great shows are defined by darkness, and its default philosophy was one of optimism at a time when even the best comedies today tend towards ironic detachment.

He goes on…

So let me put it this way: there is a stretch of 42 episodes spanning seasons 2, 3 and 4 without a bad one among them. Every sitcom, even the best, churns out a misfire now and then; for two-odd years, every “Parks” episode was at a minimum very good, and at a maximum a classic of the form, mixing slapstick, social satire and simple character-based comedy.

The show’s cast was unbelievably deep for a broadcast network comedy. Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman, Aziz Ansari, Rashida Jones, Chris Pratt, Adam Scott, Rob Lowe, and Aubrey Plaza are all much bigger stars than they were six years ago (with the exception of Lowe, probably). And all Offerman did was create one of the greatest TV characters of all-time in Ron Swanson:

Anyway I’ll stop talking about TV now, but I look forward to the finale tonight. I’ve never been so confident in a show to stick the landing.

(If you haven’t watched, the first six seasons are on Netflix.)

Douche(s) of the week:

Boyhood didn’t win Best Picture. What the hell, people? Smdh.

Vine(s) of the week:

There were some crazy dunks in the basketball world this week. We’ll start this section by continuing the CSU basketball theme. Here is former Ram Jon Octeus, who was with CSU for the last couple years before trying to transfer to UCLA, not getting in, and landing at Purdue.

I never saw that from J.O. in a Rams’ uniform. On a side note, CSU is without a reliable true point guard. They could have really used Octeus’ long, active defense this year.

The other college dunk of the week came from Jarell Martin of LSU, who went between the legs IN A GAME! IN COLLEGE!

I’ve seen some crazy-ass dunks from JR Smith from his time in Denver, but this one might have dropped my jaw more than any other.

This doesn’t have its own section, but here’s a video of a 92-year-old man driving around a Piggly Wiggly parking lot in Wisconsin. It’s pretty funny if you know that no one was hurt and you can avoid getting into a debate about the elderly’s right to drive and society’s role in accommodating the elderly and confronting your own fear of one day growing old.

The driver was not cited.

Here’s a disgustingly terrifying video of a land octopus, which I’m pretty sure wasn’t a real thing until a few days ago.

And finally, check out this ending to a middle school basketball game. (White team is up by one.)

A jump ball as time expires results in the end of the game. Just when you thought you’ve seen it  all…

Happy Tuesday everybody. Thanks for reading. See ya next week (for the 99th Tuesday in a row).

***

Comment on any of this stuff below, or email me at mdhahn1@yahoo.com with post ideas, videos or other media I should know about. Subscribe at the top right of this page. Follow me on Twitter @TuesWithMitch.

CSU Seniors Are A Special Group

V. Haro. Fort Collins Coloradoan

Colorado State’s classy group of five seniors will be missed by Ram fans. V. Haro. Fort Collins Coloradoan

One of the things I’ll remember most about the group of Colorado State seniors whose careers all ended Saturday was they way the carried themselves on the court.

When I watched Greg Smith and Wes Eikmeier and Colton Iverson and Dorian Green and Pierce Hornung, I got the feeling they were all there to win a basketball game. Nothing more. They were passionate and they would get jacked up in big moments, but it was always about the team. Never about themselves. Never talking crap. Never showing up an opponent. Never playing to the crowd.

Personal celebrations are rampant in college basketball and I’m not here to say any of that is wrong or foolish. It’s a fun part of the game. But it was really refreshing to watch a group of kids that just didn’t care about any of that. I’m sure much of the credit for this mentality should go to Tim Miles and Larry Eustachy, but it’s rare for college kids to conduct themselves with so much class at all times.

How many times can you remember one of these seniors doing the single three goggle, double three goggles, down-low-three-thing, six-shooter-pistol-thing, jersey popping, or chest pounding? None. I suppose I could be wrong but I can’t remember one of these guys doing something like that one time over the course of four (or three for Eikmeier, one for Iverson) years. That’s incredible to think about.

Instead we saw a lot of this stuff:

CSU celebrates as a team.AP Photo/Coloradoan, Dawn Madura

CSU parties on the court– as a team– after a win.
AP Photo/Coloradoan, Dawn Madura

Always about the team.

The ending was unceremonious and it didn’t feel right. Last week’s post pointed out that they earned a better fate than what they were stuck with.

Without getting on my soapbox again, I’ll simply say it was a shame to watch the kids that turned a program around go out in that manner. They deserved better. They could have played Florida Gulf Coast in the second round. Or Gonzaga. Or anybody else. You have to feel that any draw other than Louisville in Kentucky and things wouldn’t have been so upsetting and disappointing.

I’m not saying they were bound to win a national championship, but it’s no stretch to see them as a Sweet 16 team if the committee was a little more kind reasonable. They deserved better. I’ll get off my soap box now.

An interesting thought regarding this team:  Does it make sense to retire any numbers? I think there’s one guy you can make this argument for and that’s #22. Dorian Green has played in more CSU basketball games than anyone. Ever. He took over a team that had gone 4-12 in conference play the year before he arrived. They improved each of his four years. He led the program to back-to-back tournament appearances for the first time in 13 years. This year’s team won the most games in program history and is generally considered the best Colorado State team ever. Green scored 26 points in the program’s first NCAA tournament win in 24 years.

Those are some serious accomplishments.

The thing is, he was never really a superstar. Nobody on this team was. They were five very good players who played very well together. You can’t retire all five numbers. Or can you? No you can’t. Or do you just retire Smith’s 44 and Hornung’s 4 and Green’s 22 because they played all four years? No, that’s too excessive.

Colorado State has only retired five numbers in the history of their athletic department and they’re generally reserved for All-Americans. Only one of those honored is a men’s basketball player, Bill Green (no relation, but a very coincidental last name), in the early 1960s.

With that in mind it seems unlikely Dorian Green’s number will hang in the rafters at Moby, but his career certainly warrants a discussion on the matter. What do you all think?

I guess at some point we have to think about next year. For a team losing all five of it’s starters, the cupboard isn’t as bare as it might initially seem. The core will be sixth-year senior Jesse Carr, 4th-year junior Dwight Smith, 4th-year junior and current Mountain West sixth-man of the year Daniel Bajerano, junior Jon Octeus and senior Gerson Santo.

Three pretty solid recruits are coming in, but at this point it’s tough to predict how much playing time any of them will receive.

A drop-off is expected. At this point (and it is really early for all this talk) I see CSU as a middle of the pack Mountain West team that lands on the wrong side of the bubble.

Anyway, this year’s group deserves to be celebrated and will not be soon forgotten. They turned the program around. They laid the foundation. They were all close friends. They hang out together. They are mature off the court. They were mature on the court. And they were good.

We may never see a group like them again.

OTHER STUFF FROM THE TOURNAMENT’S OPENING WEEKEND

This category is pretty much dominated by Florida Gulf Coast University. This dunk from Friday is the moment of the tourney.

What we have here is a kid on a 15-seed lobbing it about 3 feet above the rim in a crucial moment. Then some white dude who probably didn’t really get recruited by anyone throws it down like JaVale McGee. Just an incredible moment.

That happened on Friday. By Saturday morning, they had they’re own music video popping around social media. Usually this stuff is pretty poor, but “Dunk City” has some serious production value:

They won again to make history on Sunday, which produced my favorite gif since Marshall Henderson trolling the Auburn kids. Equipment manager going hard:

FGCU Equipment Manager

What a thug. I love the mini-chicken dance halfway through. It’s also important to notice how goofy his buddy #15 is. Not quite as thug.

My other favorite moment from the opening weekend came when a friend sent me this video. The dude coming down the stairs in the background has had a long day of basketball, presumably enjoying an adult beverage or two along the way. Apparently watching someone fall down turns me into a second-grader giggling uncontrollably.

OTHER STUFF FROM AROUND THE WEB

Thursday night was all about college basketball, but if you missed the end of the Nuggets game against the 76ers, check out this wild finish that extended their winning streak to 14.

The Nuggets (sans Ty Lawson) lost to the Hornets last night. No really, that happened. Still, they are the best story in the NBA right now (assuming you don’t like or don’t care about or refuse to acknowledge the Miami Heat, who should be expected to win every game and not praised for it). Denver has a great chance of securing the number 3 seed in the Western Conference. Rob Mahoney of si.com had an interesting piece on Monday about the Nuggets true chances of playoff success. Personally, I think there’s a whole lot to hate about the NBA, but the deep and different dudes in Denver are, in a way, the opposite of all those disturbing and disgusting trends. So I watch. And I root. And I don’t even feel like a hypocrite.

And yes, I absolutely think this team is good enough to get past San Antonio and Oklahoma City to play Miami in the Finals, assuming David Stern is cool with it, which is unlikely. They travel to San Antonio tomorrow in what should be an interesting test.

The controversial ending to the Nuggets-Bulls game last week got a Bulls analyst fired. What a wild story.

This is a great story on a dad successfully grooming his son to become a professional athlete. Really good journalism.

This MMA’er has an unfortunate name. Or the announcer has an unfortunate pronunciation. Either way, this should make you laugh:

This has 6 million views in like 6 days. It’s not as good as this classic. Or even this one. But what a fun little genre we’ve developed here.

And finally, Opening Day is less than a week away. It might mean less in Colorado this year, but damn, I love baseball. It’s hard to not get excited for winter fading into spring and spring fading into summer. Nothing symbolizes that better than a bright green baseball diamond on a sunny day. I wrote this a year ago.

Happy Tuesday everybody.

Comment on any of this stuff below, or email me at mdhahn1@yahoo.com with post ideas, videos or other media I should know about. Subscribe at the top right of this page. Follow me on Twitter @MitchDHahn

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.

Can Colorado State Make the NCAA Tournament?

It’s February. The Super Bowl is over and national signing day is done. It is officially college basketball season.

The NCAA tournament bubble is changing fairly dramatically each week, with teams all over the country looking to snag one of the 37 at-large bids for a chance to go dancing in the best sporting event known to man.

The Colorado State Rams currently stand with a foot on each side of the bubble, hoping they can do enough to make their first NCAA tournament since Matt Nelson led them to a near upset of future NBAers JJ Redick, Sheldon Williams, Chris Duhon, Dahanty Jones and Duke in 2003.

Tim Miles has his CSU Rams in decent position for an NCAA tournament berth, but there's work to be done in the second half of the MWC schedule. (AP Photo/ Ed Andrieski)

I’ll tell you what the Rams need to do to make the tourney in a bit. First let’s look at where the experts place the Rams right now.

ESPN‘s Joe Lunardi projects the Rams to be watching the Madness on TV in his latest bracket. He moved the Rams from his “Last Four In” to his “First Four Out” after last week. Locals might find it interesting that Lunardi’s bracket has Colorado Sate sandwiched between Wyoming and CU as the third, fourth and fifth teams left out. Neither of the other brackets mentions the folks in Laramie or Boulder. (Sidenote: Wyoming still has to play UNLV, San Diego State, New Mexico and Colorado State on the road. I’ll think they’ll go 0-4 and be removed from the discussion).

CBS‘s Jerry Palm has CSU playing in the 13-seed play-in game in his bracket. He has the Rams as his last team in.

Sports Illustrated‘s Andy Glockner has the Rams playing in the 12-seed play-in game in his bracket. He also has CSU among his “Last Four In.”

Now it’s important to keep in mind that these bracket projections– as fun as they are– don’t really mean much and are kind of silly. These are all simply guesses at what the selection committee might do if the season ended today. Thing is, the season doesn’t end today; there’s a lot of basketball left to be played.

Rewind to about a year ago. I remember scanning these brackets and seeing the Rams projected to make the field in most of them (even a 10-seed at one point). Then the team lost four of five regular season games and got bounced in the opening round of the Mountain West tournament. They were nowhere to be found on Selection Sunday.

With that in mind let’s look at what Tim Miles’ squad has done and needs to do.

Besides team records and the “eyeball test” (whatever the hell that is) the things the selection committee looks at the most are RPI, Strength of Schedule, Quality Wins and Bad Losses.

The biggest thing working for the Rams are the computer numbers. Their RPI is 26 and their SOS is 10. Those numbers indicate a lock to make the tourney. The Rams don’t have any bad losses either. However, CSU has only one quality win (San Diego State at home). To make the tourney, they will have to get a few more wins over RPI top 50 and top 100 teams.

They will have their opportunities.

We are halfway through the MWC schedule. Each team has played seven games with seven to go. The Rams went 4-3 the first time through with all three losses coming on the road to some of the better teams in the conference (UNLV, New Mexico, Wyoming) they get those teams in Moby this time around.

Here’s what needs to happen for the Rams in their seven remaining games for them to go dancing:

at TCU: Must win

at Boise State: Must win

vs. Wyoming (70 RPI) : Must win

vs. New Mexico (43 RPI) : Must win

at San Diego State (18 RPI) : Can afford to lose, but a win would make them a near-lock (assuming they haven’t lost to TCU, BSU or UW).

vs. UNLV (11 RPI) :  Pretty close to a must win

at Air Force:  Must win

Okay you got all that? Simple stuff really. Pop quiz coming soon.

This team should be better prepared for a stretch run and the accompanying pressure after last year’s collapse. The above schedule is no walk in the park, and actually when you factor in the number of “must wins,” it’s pretty daunting. The Rams can’t afford to slip up one time and lose a game they shouldn’t. That’s not an easy thing to handle.

So I guess for me the bottom line is this: I would be surprised if the Rams make the NCAA tournament. It’s hard for me to see a 6-1 record finish and even 5-2 might not be enough.

Either way, we should be in for an interesting few weeks of college basketball.

A Tumultuous Week for CSU Football and Other Musings

Jack Graham (Helen H. Richardson/Denver Post)

CSU fans sure hope Jack Graham knows what he's doing. (Helen H. Richardson/Denver Post)

I know I haven’t been around all that long, but I think Colorado State football fans will be hard-pressed to come up with a more tumultuous week than the one we all witnessed recently. Here’s a quick timeline of the events:

  • Thursday morning:  Highly respected athletic director Paul Kowalczyk fired completely out of the blue. The final 3 1/2 years of his contract are bought out using “private funds” (meaning donors/boosters likely pushed Kowalczyk out).
  • Thursday morning:  Kowalczyk replaced by Jack Graham, a passionate donor with zero athletic administrative experience.
  • Thursday afternoon: CSU President Tony Frank posts a letter in which he confirms his commitment to athletics at CSU. One eyebrow-raising sentence mentions “the impact that a privately funded football stadium on our campus would have.”
  • Saturday:  Nearly pull off a large upset against arguably the Rams’ biggest rival, only to fall short in the fourth quarter (no surprise there).
  • Sunday:  Fourth year coach Steve Fairchild fired by Graham.
  • Monday:  Graham announces his perplexing hiring of a national search firm to look for coaching candidates. Someone is paying the firm a quarter of a million dollars.
  • Tuesday morning:  Fort Collins Coloradoan article confirms that Jack Graham wants/is thinking about an on-campus stadium.

Whew… Need a few shots of Pepto Bismol to digest all that.

Other local and national sports musings:

  • How cool was it to see CSU play on Coach K court in front of the Cameron Crazies? It would have been cooler if they had a contributor taller than 6′-6″.
  • Am I the only CSU fan who was very disappointed to see the students rush the court after beating Colorado? We did the same thing two years ago and Kowalczyk sent us all an email saying how stupid it was. He was right.
  • In six or seven years the St. Louis Cardinals will be glad they’re not paying Albert Pujol$ $25 million a year, but don’t tell that to the 12-year-old in Missouri who has slept in a Number 5 jersey-T for as long as he can remember.
  • It seems like David Stern is losing control of the NBA. His nixing of the Chris Paul trade screws over three different franchises, but none more than the small market New Orleans Hornets, which he was trying to protect. Superstars in the final year of their contract will always have the power to dictate where they want to sign. It’s just an unfortunate truth.
  • The Rockies better sign some starting pitching during this offseason, the sooner the better. Getting rid of Huston Street and his contract to create flexibility was fine, but now it’s time to make some moves.
  • I would like to see Nene come back for the Nuggets, but I have a feeling some other team is willing to overpay for him. I think the Nuggets have to let them. A max contract would be a little much.
  • And no post would be complete without this:  TEBOOOOOOOWWWWWWWW!!!!! At this point, there’s no sense in being skeptical. I’m all-in on the Tebow Train, and I worry that lots of people in Denver and across the country are too busy trying to be quarterback experts to enjoy what we’re seeing. This is the most remarkable football season of my generation’s lifetime, just shut up and enjoy it already.