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2017 NIT: Colorado State Hosts Cal State Bakersfield

The CSU Rams look to continue their magic season

NCAA Basketball: Fresno State at Colorado State Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado State Rams (24-11) have a tough test ahead of them if they want to advance to next round of the NIT. The CS-Bakersfield Roadrunners (23-9), coming off a 73-66 win over Cal that was not as close as the score makes it seems, come to Fort Collins.

The Roadrunners are a very good defensive team. They rank third in opponent field goal percentage (37.1%), 19th in scoring defense (63.1 ppg), 6th in turnovers forced (17), 13th in steals (8.4 per game), and they rank 17th in defensive efficiency per KenPom.

The Rams will have to protect the ball this game. They are 16-5 when they have less then 12 turnovers per game. Offensively and on the boards, both teams are about the same. The Rams average 1.5 more points per game and the Roadrunners average about one more rebound per game.

The Rams could look to take advantage of their size. The Roadrunners tend to run small for the majority of the game. If the Rams can take advantage when this happens they could control this game.

Both Emmanuel Omogbo and Gian Clavell need to keep up their games. Getting hot from three and being a force inside have helped these two lead the Rams all year.

One other area the Rams need to take advantage of is at the free throw line. They seem to have gotten away from this recently and they need to attack the rim and get to the line.

The Roadrunners have 4 players who average double digit scoring. Led by Jaylin Airington at 14.3 points per game, CSUB shoots the ball at 44% for the game. The Roadrunners look to create havoc on defense and score in transition. This could hurt the Rams as they only have 8 healthy bodies, with 7 players in the rotation.

A win over the Roadrunners would give the Rams their second win over a top 75 RPI program this year. If the Rams win they would host the winner of the UT-Arlington and Akron.

Tip off is at 9:15 MT, Monday March 20th. Game will be broadcast on ESPN2.