The Colorado State men's basketball team was left out of the NCAA tournament last season. The Rams became the lowest ranked RPI team to ever miss the tournament. A lot of questions were asked about why the Rams were left out when there were other teams who did qualify not have the impressive resume like the Rams did. The non-conference schedule in which the Rams finished 13-0, was the main reason for the historic snubbing. Aside from playing Georgia State, and some underachieving teams like Colorado, and UTEP the schedule was not very challenging. I wrote a piece prior to last season stating that the Rams need a more challenging schedule to impress the committee and that wasn't the case at all. They paid for it big time with a very experienced team missing the tournament again. After looking around researching team schedules all over the country, I have gotten an idea of who the Rams will play this season. I have some bad news, it doesn't look good at all. There's a good, but a whole lot of ugly will be unveiled in throughout this piece.
Lets start with the good, the annual rivalry game with Colorado is always a big game. It's a state pride thing, the Rams stole one in Boulder last year and the Buffs will be looking for revenge. Both teams get up for this one no matter what CU fans like to say. The other good thing about this schedule is the Neutral matchup against Kansas State. This game is part of a 2 game series in which the next one will be played at the Pepsi Center in 2016. The Wildcats had a tough season last year but they should rebound. This is a quality opponent for the Rams, but aside from Colorado and Kansas State there's not much else to see.
This schedule entails a whole lot of bad that's the nice way of putting it. To be honest its utterly pathetic it screams small conference basketball. There is nothing exciting about it, and its embarrassing that season ticket holders, and the students will be watching these type of games. The Corpus Christi Coastal Challenge is bad enough. The bracket is filled with bottom tier Division 1 teams. Abilene Christian, Alcorn State, and Florida A&M are all teams that people usually schedule when they need a blowout win to boost team morale. The only good potential opponent in this tourney is UTEP, who the Rams have played nail biting games the past couple years.
The worst part of it happens to be two match ups against Division 2 teams. Yes NCAA Division 2, Regis University and Arkansas Fort Smith. The Rams played UAR-Fort Smith last season and won so comfortably that the players who never play got some playing time. Once again the Lions will make the trek up to Fort Collins so the Rams could get an easy win. I don't care how good a Division 2 opponent is you shouldn't be playing them 10 games into your season. Regis is basically an instate opponent who is going through a coaching transition. They could be good, but CSU shouldn't be playing them unless it's an exhibition game before the season starts.
In all of Larry Eustachy's seasons including the one he inherited the 5 seniors, the staff has put together very lackluster non-conference schedules. The Rams have paid for it one way or another as well. Whether it was when they were placed as an 8 seed into Louisville's region. Who happened to be the number 1 overall seed and won the National title. That team could have made a run if their schedule was better, and prevented them from playing Louisville. To last year when the Rams became the first team to finish in the top 30 RPI and miss the tournament. Their non-conference RPI was in the 200s, and their biggest name opponent was CU. Yes Georgia State took the country by storm in March, but they weren't relevant when the two teams played.
The complaint that schools like UCLA, or Duke don't want to come to Moby is ridiculous. The best case scenarios for those would be neutral site games at Pepsi Center in Denver. However going on the road, in hostile environments and competing with big schools look a lot better on your tournament resume. This upcoming season will be more of a transition year for the Rams, so there is potential for a NIT or CBI birth. However the NCAA's are likely one year away, due to the key losses the team had. This doesn't change the fact that this schedule is awful. The CSU fan base deserves better, if that means going on the road to play Kansas, UCLA, Arizona or other big names so be it. Ram fans will travel to see those games. However Moby Arena will likely be half empty because of the home schedule is an eyesore. Here's an idea do what Wyoming did, schedule a 2 or 3 and 1 a power 5 conference team. They did it with Cal, why can't Colorado State?
You don't have to schedule big name schools, why not schedule big time mid majors? Schools like Wichita State, Creighton, BYU, Butler and others are potential home and home series you could schedule. However this is a matter of effort and it seems that the coaching staff didn't learn its lesson from last years snubbing. They'll likely have a good non conference record, but will struggle in conference due to the lackluster non conference schedule. The fans deserve better and so do the players. Get it together coaching staff.
Here's a link to the schedule: Mens basketball schedule