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Inside the 2021-22 CSU Men’s Basketball Schedule

September 21, 2021

The much anticipated 2021-22 season is nearly upon us and the schedule has finally been released. Snippets have been appearing regularly over the last several months but now it is finalized.

And it is a schedule becoming of an NCAA hopeful from the Mountain West Conference. It features a variety of games against what are expected to be top programs meant to produce important numbers in the NCAA Quad System to help with NCAA Tournament selection. O

Of the 30 games on the schedule, as many as 8 of them could be against what were NCAA Tournament teams last season, Another 4 games are scheduled against NIT teams.

It also features games against weaker opponents to get the program ready for a demanding conference schedule. Games that offer challenges and risk in some cases.

It all begins with an exhibition game on October 31st against in-state D2 Adams State. Nothing noteworthy other than to point out that the last time Adams State visited CSU, Ram favorite Pierce Hornung was cold-cocked as he was running down the floor by an Adams State player. It resulted in a concussion and did affect CSU for a few games. On the positive side, that was the last season that CSU won a game in the Dance so maybe its good juju to have the Grizzlies on the schedule.

Nine days later, the Rams host Oral Roberts. The Golden Eagles won their Summit League Tournament last season to qualify for the NCAA Tournament, then went on to upset both Ohio State and Florida before succumbing to Arkansas in the Sweet Sixteen. They are led by high-scoring guard Max Abmas, who averaged 24 points and 4 assists last season. We’re taking Jimmer-like stuff here as Abmas is the closest thing to the 2011 appearance of the BYU Naismith Award winning Fredette in terms of pure scoring. Jimmer scored 42 that day in Moby. Abmas is capable of challenging that. A CAN”T MISS FOR ANY BASKETBALL FAN!

Max Abmas

Following Oral Roberts, CSU will host both Arkansas-Pine Bluff and NAIA Peru State . Yes I know, Peru is not a state. These should be easy wins for the Rams but more importantly they serve as early-season tune-ups to get the team ready for what is to come.

Jacob, you will not be getting 500 words on Peru State. You’ll get nothing and like it. 😀😀😀

And then the first big series of test comes as the Rams head eastward to [play the 2021 Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands. The first and only known match-up is against the Bradley Braves from the Missouri Valley Conference. Bradley is expected to be a middle of the pack team but MVC teams always offer a tough test. Not a gimme by any means. CSU Head Coach Niko Medved is 2-1 against Bradley, leading Drake to a pair of regular season wins before falling to the Braves in the MVC Tournament.

If all goes well, the Rams will meet perennial Big East power and NCAA Tourney team Creighton. The Blue Jays are in a bit of a rebuild but will be loaded with a lot of young talent looking to grow over the course of the season. And if the Rams can make it past Creighton, there is a good chance they will be matched up in the final game with none other than the Mighty Buffs of The University of Colorado. The Buffs won a game in the NCAA Tourney last season but 2021-22 is a bit of a rebuild for them as they look to incorporate a very talented freshman class with several top-notch upperclassmen.

I am sad that these two teams are not scheduled to play in Boulder this year. A hard-fought rivalry game played 2000 miles away doesnt have quite the feel of a game being played in the Foam Dome. Local hoops fans will have to wait another season to get a look at these two teams. Oh well.

Regardless, this Paradise Jam event is a fantastic opportunity for the Rams to build their NCAA Tournament resume. CSU is more than capable of garnering three wins.

And then its back home to Moby for a three-game set against local rival Northern Colorado, Sun Belt representative Little Rock, and WCC power Saint Mary’s.

Northern Colorado will be improved in 2021-22. They are a senior-laden team led by Sterling-grown Bodie Hume, a highly underrated (and under-recruited) forward. Head Coach Steve Smiley will be looking for a local scalp to add to his resume. Assistant Coach Dorian Green will hope to make his return to Moby a memorable one.He started every game in his career at Moby. Maybe Smiley and Medved will agree to give him 5 seconds of eligibility to keep his extraordinary streak alive.

Dorian Green

Little Rock is next. The Trojans are a bit of an enigma. They were the top team in the Sun Belt in 2020 with a very young team. They returned nearly everyone in 2021 and finished near the bottom of the Sun Belt. I dont know anything about them but they do have a bit of a unique roster which features three players from Serbia and two from Bosnia-Herzegovina. An Eastern European pipeline so to speak.

And then there is St Mary’s.

Easily the premier home game of the non-conference schedule. The Randy Bennett-led Gaels are a WCC powerhouse who missed out on the NCAA Tournament last season but will be looking to return. Pre-season prognosticators have them as high or higher than the Rams and this game is not only a toss-up, it will be an incredibly hard-fought game between two highly skilled and disciplined teams.

St Mary’s closes out the home non-conference schedule but really kicks off a stretch of three neutral site games that will give Ram fans insight into how far the 2021-22 team can go.

The first is against 2021 NIT finalist Mississippi State. The other Bulldogs from the SEC are coached by the venerable Ben Howland, who enters the season with 515 career wins and three Final Four appearances. The Bulldogs will be athletic, physical, and disciplined and give the Rams all that they want.

That game is followed by a return neutral court match-up with Tulsa in Fort Worth. The game was supposed to be held in the Pepsi Center last season but was wiped out because of COVID. For a variety of reasons, the Ball Arena in Denver was not an option and the teams agreed to play in Fort Worth. Bummer that Ram fans cant make the short trip to Denver. Last time these teams met the Rams prevailed in a 3OT 110-104 thriller that was the coming out of then freshmen Isaiah Stevens and David Roddy. Stevens delivered a 26-point, 12 assist double-double and Roddy, in his first start, delivered 17 and 11 for his first double-double as a Ram. Here’s another tidbit. Tulsa coach Frank Haith was the coach for Missouri when the Rams defeated them in the 2013 NCAA Tourney in Lexington, KY.

Colton Iverson

And then comes the biggest what is expected to be the biggest test of the entire non-conference schedule.

The Rams travel to Birmingham, AL to take on the Crimson Tide of Alabama. No they not coached by Nick Saban. They are coached by Nate Oats who has built an SEC powerhouse in his two years in Tuscaloosa. The same Nate Oats who built Buffalo (yes, Buffalo) into an NCAA Tourney 6-seed in his four years there. A Sweet Sixteen teamin2021 aftger earning a 2-seed. There will be plenty of NBA talent on the floor that day. Make no mistake. The Rams aren’t going there for a paycheck.

Nate Oats

That will conclude the out of conference schedule.

The Rams will begin their Mountain West campaign after taking a short Christmas break before heading to Alby-Q to take on the Lobos. I’ll be doing an in-depth preview of the entire Mountain West somewhere down the road so Im not going to get into any detail on the confefrence shcedule. Other than the fact that CSU and San Jose State were not scheduled to play in Moby Arena. Which means that if Ram fans will not be seeing Tim Miles in Moby Arena this season. Bummer! If you want to see Niko and Tim get together, you will have to travel to San Jose for a January 15th match-up. My wife and I are already planning to attend. Its not something I plan to miss.

So is the schedule enough?

I wanted to take a look at how the 2021-22 schedule projects into the NCAA Quadrant System analysis that the Selection Committee uses. Take these projections with a bit of a grain of salt. College Basketball can be pretty difficult to predict with all the roster upheaval that takes place off-season these days. This alone is what makes non-conference scheduling such a challenge. Aspiring non-P5 NCAA Tournament At-Large teams have it the hardest. Not enough Quad 1 and 2 games during the conference schedule and guesswork to orduce the best set of non-conference game to lead to the ultimate outcome – the At-Large bid.

I used last years NCAA published NET rankings and the 2022 projections from Barttorvik.com to give you a picture of where these opponwents fall. The Quad system is a bit complicated in how they view Home, Neutral, and Road games. You can Google the details if you want.

Opponent2021 NET Ranking2022 Projected
(BartTorvik.com)
Quad Projection
Oral Roberts1251803
ARK-Pine Bluff3423564
Bradley1731853
Creighton27721 or 2
Colorado9731 or 2
Northern Colorado2542394
Little Rock2213303 or 4
Saint Mary’s60392
Mississippi State78572
Tulsa1271052
Alabama8161

I didnt list Peru State because they have no effect on the NET Ranking and Quad System.

I think its important to note that 6 of the 11 Division 1 games can be either Quad 1 or Quad 2 games. The biggest swing factor will be the Paradise Jam event where CSU will hope that they win and advance to play both Creighton and Colorado. Ultimately, it will be incumbent on CSU to win all three games to produce the best outcome.

As for the conference schedules, CSU can expect somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 Quad 1/Quad 2 games. If I were to guess the mix, I would say 3-4 Quad 1’s and 6-7 Quad 2’s

Which means that the overall schedule should produce roughly 6 QUAD 1 games and 10 Quad 2 games. Certainly enough to produce in At-Large if the Rams can take care of business.

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