Twenty-six wins a year ago, a second place finish in a loaded Mountain West, and a NCAA tournament victory. A tough feat for any coach to replicate; that task is made even tougher for Coach Eustachy after losing five standout seniors. Everyone expected the 2013-14 schedule to feature fairly easy match-ups to allow time for a young squad to gel together before a tough conference season. That theory was correct, with eleven of thirteen games at home, but there are still great games to mark on the calendar.
The entire schedule can be found here, but let's look at the highlights.
After a warmup game against Colorado-Colorado Springs, the Rams are quickly thrust into the fire on Nov. 11 with a road trip to Spokane, Wash., to take on the Gonzaga Bulldogs. The game is part of ESPN's Tip-Off Marathon and will be featured on ESPNU. Gonzaga was infamously selected as a number one seed in the 2013 NCAA tournament and after narrowly escaping a loss in the second round to Southern University, lost to eventual Final Four team Wichita State. The 'Zags lost first round draft pick Kelly Olynyk, but should still be a top 25 team when the Rams come to town.
Then comes Weber State and a road game against an always difficult UTEP team.
After the road game, it is back home to Moby for over a month straight to finish the non-conference season. Part of that time will be spent in the "Colorado State Challenge", which includes tournament team New Mexico State.
Following the Challenge, the Rams play in-state rival Colorado December 3rd in a game that will feature two fast paced offenses. The Rams won the last matchup in Fort Collins thanks to late heroics by Dorian Green, but were run out of the gym in the first half in Boulder last year. The Buffaloes made a tournament appearance as well, falling to Illinois in the second round.
The schedule is rounded up by Southwestern Oklahoma State, Denver, UIC, and Lamar. UIC was one of nine teams to beat the Rams last year.
What do you think? Is this schedule too cupcake for the Rams? Or is it perfect for a young team needing time to coalesce? Let us know in the comments below.