Not much has gone to plan for the Colorado State Rams this season.
After falling 80-78 to Boise State on Wednesday night, CSU now sits at 11-15, 3-10.
The Rams have lost five straight at Moby Arena, and 11 of the last 15 games overall. And unfortunately for the Green & Gold, while you do hope for a strong finish after more competitive showings of late, it’s not like things get much easier from here in a loaded Mountain West Conference.
Starting with Fresno State on Saturday and then San Diego State after that, the Rams have a challenging two-game road trip before returning home for the second matchup with Wyoming (Feb. 24).
CSU will then hit the road one last time when the Rams take on Tim Miles’ San Jose Spartans on Feb. 28. After that New Mexico comes to Fort Collins for the regular season finale on Mar. 3.
While there may not be a ton at stake for this squad over the next two weeks — it’s too late to finish in the top third of the league or fix the at-large resume — based on what we have seen from the Rams over the last five games or so, the hope is that they can build off their better performances and snag a couple of wins down the final stretch.
For one thing, it’s unclear if Isaiah Stevens or John Tonje will be returning for their extra year of eligibility yet, so there is a chance that this could be the end for them in Fort Collins. And while I personally hope that’s not the case, if it is, it would be nice to see them go out right after an incredibly fun couple of years.
Clearly this season has been a struggle for a variety of reasons but it’s important to remember what Stevens and Tonje have accomplished — both as individuals and as members of some of the most successful Rams basketball teams of all-time. We’re essentially a calendar year removed from CSU earning its highest-ever seed in the NCAA Tournament (6). Not to mention they were part of three consecutive seasons with 20 or more wins which is something that only one other group in program history can say (1987-90).
Beyond sentimental reasons though and just pride itself, if CSU can get hot enough to avoid the 10-11 game in the conference tournament that’s going to be much more conducive to a potential run.
The reality is that making any type of significant noise in Las Vegas is going to be extremely tough. It’s hard to win the tournament as a top seed with a roster that is at full strength, so doing so with a short rotation when you don’t even get the benefit of having a bye on Day 1 is a long shot at best. That said, if you can avoid drawing the No. 1 seed in the second round, on paper at least, that would be more ideal.
Again, it’s probably a prayer, but you never know. Nobody expected Oregon State or Georgetown to win their respective conference tournaments in 2021. Crazy things happen in March every single year.
And in a season where we’ve already seen a ton of interconference cannibalism, if there was ever a time for something wacky to happen in the MW Tournament, it’s 2023. It’s not very often that the current bottom seeds have legitimate stars like CSU and Wyoming do. And even Air Force has proven to be pesky when they get hot from deep.
After playing competitively but still coming up short in their last couple of losses, we’ll see if the Rams can now create some momentum over the final five before heading out to Sin City. Or at the very least, we’ll see if a team that has been through the wringer this season can find a way to have a little fun and end the year with their heads held high.