A non-conference schedule should be a test to see how good your team really is. Along the way have a few games where you beat some awful lower competition teams. Colorado State's schedule however was downright awful. Now I understand why Coach Eustachy made the schedule the way it was; replacing five starters and the players returning didn't have much experience other than Daniel Bejarano, and Jon Octeus. Gerson Santo and Joe De Ciman played very sparingly last season. So to build chemistry and confidence they created a non-conference schedule according to Joe Lunardi of ESPN that is 282nd overall with a non-conference RPI of 312. So here is the good, the bad and really ugly look of this eyesore of a schedule.
New Mexico State: When Colorado State played New Mexico State it came to a last second layup by J.J. Avila to beat the Aggies 85-83. It was the final game of the "Colorado State Challenge." The Aggies have played a great non-conference schedule in which they have three top 100 wins all on the road, two top 50 losses one of which is to the No. 1 ranked Arizona Wildcats the other was to Gonzaga which Colorado State played as well. Both games were on the road and Colorado State lost to the Zags by 32 while NMSU lost by 13.
Colorado: This is a rivalry game so every year is going to be a good game. This years game was a good game but CU made shots down the stretch while CSU didn't. CU has an RPI of 8 along with three wins against the top 50. Including an exciting last second buzzer beater against Kansas.
Gonzaga: The Rams got exposure on ESPNU playing this game during the 24 hours hoops marathon. That was the only positive from this game as Gary Bell Jr. lit them up for 24 points all on three pointers. The Bulldogs hit 14 shots from beyond the arc in that game destroying the Rams 93-61.
Weber State: CSU blew them out 88-67 and they should have blew this team out. 2 of 3 wins this season by Weber State are against teams that aren't even Division 1 schools. The other win was against San Jose State who is projected to finish in the bottom of the conference.
Denver: This is a game that CSU should've won. DU is a really good team but the last time DU won at Moby Arena was 1979. It was obvious that DU wanted this game more because as the game went on the Pioneers executed better and showed more heart. They've played some good teams in their non-conference a lot better than CSU has.
Northern Colorado: The Bears beat Kansas State but otherwise their non-conference was an eyesore as well. Their RPI is 161 but haven't really played anyone. They played CSU tough and nearly beat them. This is another instate game that CSU pretty much has to schedule.
The Really Ugly:
Southwestern Oklahoma State: When I first looked at the schedule my reaction was who is this? I had to research this school online to learn about them. The Rams won 109-55 and I remember people bragging about that win. This is not a win to be proud of beating up on lower competition who is not even division 1, this reminds me of another similar game that made national news this week.
Lamar: Yes Lamar was an NCAA tournament team last year but they made it in with a losing record. Their record is 1-11 on the season with their only win against a Savannah State team that hasn't beaten a Division 1 opponent all season. Lamar has a RPI of 333 and that number is just about right.
Bethune Cookman: They're 2-14 the worst part about that is the two wins are against non Division 1 teams and 11 out of the 14 losses are by double digits. Cash strapped schools like Bethune Cookman tend to be punching bags for upper tier Division 1 schools while receiving a nice paycheck from the schools.
Prairie View A&M: The Panthers are 2-10 and in 7 of those losses they allowed 80 points or more. Five of those losses a team has scored more than 90 points. This was another Colorado State Challenge game along with Bethune Cookman was another punching bag game. Their RPI is 209 the sad part about that is they're only three spots below CSU.
UCCS: Another Division 2 opponent that CSU placed on the schedule as their first game of the season. The Rams won 99-70 but it took a big second half to win by that much. I believe that UCCS was projected to finish in the bottom portion in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. So this was a bad opponent to schedule.
As the Rams begin conference play against San Diego State tonight they're going to be facing better competition in what is going to be another great season in the Mountain West. Do I think that CSU prepared for the conference in their non-conference play? That answer is a resounding NO!
I think its going to be a long conference play for the Rams. They played only two road games, and other than CU, NMSU and DU their home schedule was awful. The non-conference schedule was an eyesore and if the Rams want fans to show up they need to schedule in the future.