The Colorado State University men’s basketball team has accomplished much under fourth-year head coach Niko Medved.
And it goes beyond the Rams’ current banner season.
CSU is 22-4, by the way, and currently sits third in the Mountain West Conference with a 12-4 record.
It’s a season that promises to add some much-needed local flavor to Colorado’s March Madness betting.
Overall, in Medved’s three-plus seasons on the bench in Fort Collins, the Rams have:
- Reached 20 wins in each of the last three seasons. That accounts for nearly a fourth of the program’s 13 20-win campaigns over 118 total seasons.
- Recorded a winning percentage of .846 so far this season. That would be the program’s all-time best full-season mark, topping the .794 success rate posted by the 2014-15 Rams.
- Attained the second-highest Associated Press ranking in program history. Colorado State climbed as high as 20th entering the New Year as it won its first 11 games. Only CSU’s 1953-54 squad attained a higher ranking at No. 18.
- Advanced to the National Invitation Tournament semifinals this past spring for only the second time in program history. The Rams lost to eventual champion Memphis and wound up in fourth place overall.
But the Medved Rams have two major goals they’ve yet to attain.
One, of course, is reaching the NCAA Tournament.
CSU has been to the Big Dance only 10 times in program history. Just three of those appearances have come in the last 32 seasons, with 2013 being the most recent.
The other unattained accomplishment is winning the program’s first Mountain West Conference regular season title.
MW crown has proven elusive
Believe it or not, this is CSU’s 23rd Mountain West basketball season.
It hardly seems possible that the Rams’ Western Athletic Conference tenure ended before the turn of the millennium.
It’s also tough to believe that the MW regular season championship has thus far eluded CSU.
The Rams, after all, have only had seven losing seasons since joining the newly created conference for the 1999-00 hoops campaign.
But it’s the cold, hard truth.
Moby Arena’s solitary MW men’s basketball banner — marking the Rams’ 2003 conference tournament title — attests to that.
So, in 22 MW seasons, CSU has had only four top-three conference finishes.
The 2012-13 and 2016-17 Rams — both guided by former coach Larry Eustachy — finished second.
Eustachy’s 2014-15 squad and Medved’s Rams of last season, notched third-place showings.
Those 2020-21 Rams, led by current junior standouts David Roddy and Isaiah Stevens, finished 20-8 and 14-4 in the MW. That placed them just behind repeat-champ San Diego State (14-3) and Utah State (14-4) in a COVID-addled season.
CSU’s .778 conference winning percentage, though, did mark the program’s all-time MW high.
But it still wasn’t enough to net an elusive MW regular-season championship.
In fact, according to the Colorado State hoops media guide, the Rams have only won or shared in five regular season conference titles in program history.
Those came in 1954, ’60 and ’61 in the Mountain States/Skyline Conference and 1989 and ’90 in the WAC.
Since, though, it’s been 0-for-the-last-32 seasons for the Rams.
And 0-for-22 in the Mountain West.
Could it come down to March 5 at Moby Arena?
According to current RPI rankings, the Mountain West is the nation’s fifth-best conference.
That’s ahead of the Pac-12 and fabled Atlantic Coast Conference.
The MW is as stacked as it’s ever been. And the top of the conference standings looked like this as of Friday afternoon:
- Boise State (22-6) 13-2
- Wyoming (22-5) 11-3
- Colorado State (22-4) 12-4
- San Diego State (17-7) 9-4
Of the four front-runners, CSU has the fewest remaining games. The Rams visit seventh-place Utah State (16-3, 7-9) on Saturday and then have six days off leading into their March 5 regular season finale at home against Boise State.
Will the MW title be on the line that night in Moby?
The Rams certainly hope so.
Especially after outlasting the host Broncos 77-74 in overtime on Feb. 13.
First, though, the Rams will need to take care of business against the Aggies late Saturday in Logan, Utah. CSU prevailed 77-72 at home on Jan. 12 in the teams’ first meeting.
CSU also needs the Broncos to slip up on the road Saturday at fifth-place UNLV or at home Tuesday against eighth-place Nevada.
Wyoming, meanwhile, is coming off Wednesday’s 61-55 loss at Moby.
The Cowboys have three of their final four games at home, hosting Nevada, San Diego State and Fresno State. In between, they also visit UNLV.
As for the reigning MW regular season and tourney-champion Aztecs, they host San Jose State and Fresno State and visit Wyoming and Nevada over the final eight days of the regular season. SDSU realistically will need to run the table and have some help to capture a third straight MW regular season crown.
PlayColorado’s top-rated DraftKings Sportsbook doesn’t like CSU’s chances.
Boise State is the current prohibitive favorite to win the MW at -275. Wyoming is next at +270 and is followed by the Rams () and San Diego State (+10000).
Nevertheless, CSU’s first MW regular season title is within reach.
But Medved, Roddy and Co., will have to overcome the odds to seize it.