Colorado State Basketball’s Five Biggest Games in 2019-20
The Rams’ non-conference schedule includes a trip to Tobacco Road
How will the Rams fare in these five important matchups?
The Rams come into the 2019-20 season with their eyes set on bouncing back from an unquestionably disappointing campaign last season. First-year head coach Niko Medved struggled to find the success that he had conjured up during his previous stops at Furman and Drake, posting a 12-20 record in his debut season at the helm for Colorado State. Medved had inauspicious first seasons with the Paladins and the Bulldogs, though, too. So maybe it’s not time to panic yet in Fort Collins.
Colorado State got a huge shot in the arm when star big man Nico Carvacho elected to return to school for his final season in the green and white. Carvacho has a great chance at being drafted next summer, but he has chosen to embark on what could be a record-setting senior year. Sophomores Kendle Moore and Adam Thistlewood will look to build on promising seasons to make up for the loss of JD Paige to graduation and Anthony Massinton-Bonner to transfer.
This group is certainly talented enough to register some easy victories over bottom-feeders, but what about their stiffer competition? The Rams have drawn up a pretty meaty non-conference schedule, including an early trip to take on one of college basketball’s blue bloods. Let’s dive into the five biggest games on Colorado State’s schedule in 2019-20.
11/8 Duke (Durham, NC)
Obviously, anytime Duke is on the schedule, that date is going to be circled on everyone’s calendars. And so it is with the Rams, who will travel to Cameron Indoor Stadium to take on the Blue Devils in the second game of the season. But before you rest too comfortably on the thought that Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, and Cam Reddish are gone, just remember that Coach K brings back stud point guard Tre Jones. Not only that, but the Dukies scored the third-best recruiting class in the country, according to 247Sports, including four Top 50 players in Vernon Carey, Matthew Hurt, Wendell Moore, and Cassius Stanley. Long story short, this is still Duke. The Rams will struggle, but if they keep it close, this contest really could be a confidence booster for the players. This game will also provide extra exposure to Carvacho, who will hope for a strong showing in the limelight to help boost his NBA Draft stock.
12/7 Boise State (Boise, ID)
This is the second game of league play for the Rams but notice the date. This game, as well as their league opener against San Diego State, are taking place in early December. Because the MWC Tournament had to moved up due to time conflicts at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, the conference schedule was adjusted to include two league games in the middle of the non-conference season. This works out nicely for Colorado State, because the Broncos will be without transfer forward Abu Kigab, who must sit out until the second semester after leaving Oregon midway through last season. As far as why beating Boise State is important? The Rams’ ceiling is realistically somewhere around a fifth-place finish. That’s also right about where I expect the Broncos to finish. This game marks the only time these two schools will meet in the regular season, so the Rams will look to score a road victory against Boise State before the Broncos’ roster gets to full strength.
12/13 Colorado (Fort Collins, CO)
Not only is this an in-state rivalry game, but it’s also a great chance for the Rams to nab what would probably be a Quadrant 2 victory. Though the NCAA Tournament is probably out of reach for Colorado State, a win like this could certainly help their cause for one of the lower-tier tournaments. However, Colorado is not going to be an easy opponent by any stretch of the imagination. Tyler Bey is a good bet to make the All-Pac 12 team and could be in the running for the league’s Player of the Year award. Another Colorado player with eyes on Pac-12 hardware is McKinley Wright IV, who has proven to be a reliable floor general in his first two years and could take another big step forward in his junior season. Tad Boyle brings almost everything back from last year’s team, which won 23 games and made the NIT. Expectations are high in Boulder this year, but can the Rams play spoiler and steal a win at home?