The Colorado State Rams may have bowed out in the third round of the NCAA Tournament, but they’re still being celebrated.
CSU finished off their 2012-13 season with a loss to the Louisville Cardinals, but not before they won a school record 26 games, including their second round NCAA contest over the Missouri Tigers. All told, it was their best year of basketball in the history of the school, and the Denver Westword is honoring their accomplishments.
The Westword announced Wednesday they have named CSU basketball the best college team in Colorado, and there should be little argument.
Yes, their rival, the Colorado Buffaloes, may have beaten the Rams early in the season, but it was clear at the end of the year which team was better.
Colorado State stood out due to their remarkable rebounding, leading Division I basketball for the entire season in rebounding margin as well as in efficiency stats on both ends of the court. Control the boards and control the game, which is what the green and gold did through many victories this year.
If wins are the deciding factor, it wasn’t even close; CSU led 26-21. Some may try to discount the Mountain West Conference, but don’t forget they set a league record with five teams earning a ticket to the big dance, the same number Colorado’s Pac-12 earned. And when non-conference games are added in, the Rams’ RPI was 18 compared to the Buffs’ 38. CSU played a tougher schedule and won more games, it’s clear they were the best in Colorado college basketball last season.
When it comes down to performance in the biggest tournament of the year, Colorado State won one game and advanced to the round of 32, while CU fell to the Illinois Fighting Illini in their only NCAA contest.
And while the Rams were slightly better than the Buffs, the last two seasons have been nothing but positive, a renaissance of college basketball in Colorado. Both teams have made the last two tournaments, and each one understands this isn’t the end, but the beginning of something greater.
In Fort Collins, a group of special seniors just laid the foundation for winning basketball, and the Rams are in a great place with Larry Eustachy as the man in charge. Likewise in Boulder, Tad Boyle is building a better squad each season and the Buffaloes may be able to do some damage in the Big Dance in 2014.
But for now, “little brother” reminded “big brother” that with grit and determination, the underdog can flourish.