It’s that time of the year again; college basketball is getting really good. In a little over a month, everyone will be filling out their brackets and looking for the dark horse that might be able to make it to the Sweet 16 or even the Elite eight. Let me be one of the first to offer up a team that might fit that description, the Colorado State Rams.
The Rams are currently 19-4, 6-2 in the Mountain West and riding a four game winning streak. That includes a 13-0 mark at home this season and 26 in a row at home going back to last season.
Colorado State does three things that are the hallmarks of a good tournament team. They rebound, they play great defense and they shoot the ball well. It all starts with their work on the boards though, the Rams are among the best rebounding teams in the country. They are out-rebounding their opponents by an average of 14 rebounds a game, that’s a huge difference. That means they are not giving up second shots and they are getting second shots of their own.
The Rams are led by Colton Iverson and Pierce Hourning on the inside, they are both big and physical. Rebounding is about talent sure, but it is more about effort. Iverson and Hourning play harder than any other two big men in the country. In addition to those two, everyone rebounds for the Rams. If they don’t, they don’t play. In their most recent win over the Nevada Wolfpack, the Rams played without Hourning and still dominated on the boards.
If any player is going to play for head coach, Larry Eustachy then they are going to play defense. The Rams play suffocating defense and force teams to do what they don’t want to do. Nevada played a great first half offensively versus the Rams but the second half was a different story. The Rams came back from 12 points down to get a much needed road win to keep their momentum going.
Offensively, the Rams have a very good inside out game. Hourning and Iverson are very good in the post but they are also excellent passers. So when they are covered, they with kick the ball out to players who can and will knock down the outside shot. That group is led be Wes Elkmeir, Dorian Green and Dwight Smith. The three point shot in college basketball is the great equalizer. If you are a good three point shooting team then you are going to have a chance in any game you play.
Most projections, at this point, have the Rams in the tournament as a number either or nine seed. If they keep winning and make a deep run into the conference tournament, then they could sneak up to a sixth seed. If they do that, the Rams are going to be very dangerous in March. You heard here first.
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