With a win over UNLV, Colorado State would have moved within a half game of Mountain West Conference No. 1 New Mexico. The Rams would have met the Lobos at home with a chance to gain the top rank in the conference.
UNLV had other plans.
As if the Mountain West wasn’t already competitive enough, Colorado State and New Mexico are now separated by only one game entering their match-up Saturday. Neither team has any daunting opponents left to finish the season, amplifying the importance of their impending collision.
The Rams failed to beat UNLV in the one category they have dominated in all year long: rebounding. Colorado State relies on their sturdy combo of interior post players and has proven to outmatch most opponents in size this season. However, the Rebels out rebounded Colorado State 36-28, including 10 on the offensive end.
If Colorado State plans to finish on top of the Mountain West Conference, or beat New Mexico for that matter, they have to win the rounding battle. Only the Lobos possess a roster capable of outmatching the Rams in the post, making a loss to UNLV because of interior weakness unacceptable.
Four teams could very likely wind up in the NCAA tournament from the Mountain West, and Colorado State can bank on receiving a bid. In order to receive an at-large bid, and win the conference tournament, the Rams must prove they can defeat New Mexico at home.
With a win over New Mexico, the Rams would gain a half game lead in the conference standings, becoming the No. 1 team in the Mountain West.
Colorado State may have made their path to conference supremacy more difficult with a loss to UNLV, but the Rams are still in the hunt for the coveted No. 1 seed.