The Colorado State Rams may be one of the sleeper teams in the MWC conference to finish in the top spot versus the likes of San Diego State and UNLV. Basketball at Colorado State has been rejuvenated as they broke to the bubble and made it to the big dance for the first time since 2003. The rams also return 4 of their top 5 scorers and add talent to their team as well. Newly named HC Larry Eustachey had a solid tenure at Southern Miss bringing them to the tournament for their first time in 25 years. With the elevated talent in the Rams roster and a new look MWC conference, with the additions of Fresno State and Nevada, the Rams should thrive with returning talent and make a splash in the pre season before entering conference play.
Coach: Larry Eustachey (1st year)
Key Returnees: PG Wes Eikmeir: 15.5 RPG-1.8 RPG
SG Dorian Green: 13.1 PPG-2.4 APG
SF Greg Smith: 9.4 PPG-5.1 RPG
PF Pierce Hornung: 8.8 PPG-8.7 RPG
Key Losses: PG Jesse Carr (Torn ACL): 7.2 PPG-2.7 APG
F Will Bell: 8.3 PPG-3.8 RPG
Projected Starting 5:
PG Wes Eikmeir
SG Dorian Green
SF Greg Smith
PF Pierce Hornung
Team Overview: HC Larry Eustachey has been a winner at his previous 2 programs with a Utah State in the 1997-98 season where he captured the Big West conference regular season title and Big West Tournament title, Iowa State in the 1999-00 season where he led the Cyclones to a Big 12 regular season title and Big 12 Tournament title and ended the season in the elite 8. Eustachey has a lot of talent to work with in his starting rotation. CSU's leading scorer PG Wes Eikmeir (15.5-1.8 APG) returns along with SG Dorian Green (13.1 PPG-2.4 APG) and near double-double machine SF Greg Smith (9.4 PPG-8.7 RPG) who could reach the double-double status this season. Minnesota Tranfer C Colton Iverson (5.4 PPG-5 RPG) should add depth to the frontcourt and overall contribute quality minutes for a Rams team that will get a good start in the non-conference season.
Key Opponents: @ Washington, @ Colorado, VS Montana
Washington: No other team in the Pac 12 was as damaged by the 2012 NBA Draft as the Washington Huskies were when they lost their top 2 scorers Terrence Ross (16.4 PPG-6.4 RPG) and Tony Wroten (16 PPG-5 RPG). Despite these losses the huskies are still a team to be reckoned with. The backcourt is will still be a strong point in the Huskie offense as they return SG C.J Wilcox (14.2 PPG-3.4 RPG), assist leader PG Abdul Gaddy (8.1 PPG-5.2 APG) and veteran SG Scott Suggs (7.4 PPG-1.9 RPG). C Aziz N'Diaye is inching closer to the double-double status as he averaged 7.8 points and grabbed 7.3 RPG last season. The Huskies won't back down to the Colorado State Rams, and playing in Seattle, and may be to much for CSU early in the year.
Colorado Buffaloes: The Colorado Buffaloes are slowly establishing their selves as a basketball power in the Pac-12 as they won the conference tournament in their first year as a starter and made it to the big dance for the first time since 2003. The Buff's return PG Askia Booker (9.1 PPG-2.7 RPG), SG Spencer Dinwiddie (10 PPG-3.6 PRG), and double-double machine SF Andre Roberson (11.6 PPG-11.1 RPG) Roberson is the bread and butter of this Buffaloes team as he also lead last year's starting 5 in steals per game (1.3), blocks per game (1.9), and field goal percentage (.510). Colorado will likely add ESPN 100 recruits SF Xavier Johnson and C Josh Scott to the starting 5 for what will be a powerful frontcourt.
Montana Grizzlies: The Montana Grizzlies are coming off a 25-6 season and a trip to the NCAA tournament, their 2nd in the last three years. Montana always has a decent team under HC Wayne Tinkle and has averaged about 23 wins in the last 3 years. Top scorer G Will Cherry (15.8 PPG-3.3 APG) is accompanied by G-F Kareem Jamar (13.6 PPG-5.6 RPG) and F Mathias Ward (10.9 PPG-3.9 RPG) to make up a solid core. The last time these two teams played was last year @ Colorado State, and the outcome was a 64-58 win for the Rams. Montana and CSU play again @ CSU and should produce the same result: a win for the Rams.
The Rest: @ Denver, VS Chadron State, VS Northern Colorado, VS Evansville, @ Illinois-Chicago, VS North Florida, VS CSU-Bakersfield, VS Portland, VS (Virginia Tech or Bradley), VS Adams State, VS Utep, VS St. Bonaventure.
Non-Conference Schedule Prediction: 13-2 (losses @ Washington, @ Colorado)
The Colorado State Rams may be ready to take on many of their opponents on their non-conference slate, though trips to Washington and Colorado may be too much for the rams to handle. Getting wins against Montana, Denver, and St. Bonaventure will bulk up, and close games against Washington and Colorado, will bulk up Colorado State's NCAA Tournament profile and boost their confidence entering the MWC season.