Colorado State vs San Jose State: Preview
The Spartans welcome Colorado State in their conference home opener.
Tim Miles welcomes
WHO: Colorado State (12-1, 2-1 in the MWC) vs. San Jose State (7-6, 0-1 in the MWC)
WHEN: Saturday, January 14th, 4:00 PM MT, 3:00 PM PT
WHERE: Provident Credit Union Events Center-San Jose, CA
Line: KenPom, Rams are favored by 12 Points
SERIES RECORD: Colorado State leads all-time series 22-0
Amid covid-19 postponements nationwide at the moment, it feels very nice to have some Mountain West conference action on the Saturday schedule. Especially for the San Jose State Spartans, who host Colorado State. This time last year they made their home in Phoenix, AZ as they attempted to navigate their way through the pandemic.
Now, a year later they have a new leader at the helm in former Nebraska and Colorado State head coach Tim Miles. Coach Miles has already tied Jean Prioleau’s career-high in wins for a season. With more than half of the season remaining at 7-6 and has the program trending upward. He welcomes his former employer, now led by his former assistant in Niko Medved (64-41 at CSU) on Saturday.
San Jose State is coming off of a rather disappointing conference opener on the road in nearby Fresno this past Tuesday. When the Spartans fell by twenty (59-79) to the Bulldogs. South Carolina transfer forward Trey Anderson led the way for the Spartans with 18 points, including a 4-7 performance from deep. Aiding Anderson was swiss army knife Omari Moore who chipped in 11 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists.
Colorado State regained a bit of their winning prowess on Wednesday night when they welcomed Utah State inside Moby Arena. The Rams kept the W in Fort Collins with a 77-72 defeat of the Aggies. David Roddy led all scorers with 24 points and 6 rebounds with 22 points from floor general Isaiah Stevens.
This was a bounce back performance after the Rams suffered their first loss of the season, a true road game against San Diego State. Coach Medved’s squad lost by an astonishing 30 points and failed to break 50 points, their lowest scoring total this season. For the visitors there is plenty on the line as they hope to reposition themselves in the conference championship race.
Last season’s covid-19 restrictions kept San Jose on the road most of the year. Including “hosting” the Rams in Phoenix for their series this time last year. Colorado State swept the “home” team by a margin of 30 points, the Spartans are hoping for some history making results this time around. While the Rams are looking to build a winning streak and their first road win.
Matchup of the game: David Roddy vs. Trey Anderson
The 6’6 255 tight-end/position-less Roddy is finding himself looking for scoring opportunities in all areas of the floor, including the five spot. The junior is making good on those opportunities too, averaging team highs in 19.8 PPG, 7.6 RPG and 1.3 BPG.
His matchup will likely be with the 6-7 206 combo-forward and SEC transfer who is leading the Spartans with 2.3 made three-pointers a game. This matchup may find it’s way all over the floor, which should make for an entertaining game. Smith is averaging 10.1 PPG and 5.2 RPG as a four man in the Spartans small ball lineup.
For Colorado State: Free up the beast
David Roddy gets buckets regardless of his opponent. Having only being held to single digits twice this season in wins against Oral Roberts and Little Rock. Which may honestly be more attributed to his reduced minutes because of the near 30+ point whooping the Rams were dishing out in both games.
But examining the Rams only loss to San Diego State. The Aztecs were able to limit Roddy’s shot attempts, force him to earn it at the free-throw line and forced 17 turnovers to just 5 assists. Obviously San Jose State isn’t exactly the defensive juggernaut their southern neighbors are.
But a key to the Rams win over Utah State was receiving help from their bench. A combined 22 points from freshman Jalen Lake and division-III transfer Chandler Jacobs. Better ball distribution and help from his peers allowed Roddy to free himself up for more opportunities and knock them down. San Jose State will very likely attempt to limit those opportunities on Saturday with their length and depth in the frontcourt.
For San Jose State: Take and make the three-pointer
The Spartans rank 7th in the nation with 39.8% from beyond the arc as a team. They also lead the league with their three-point shooting, just ahead of Colorado State at 39.6%.
To have any chance in this one the Spartans have to play both sides of the ball and display an above average defensive performance. While shooting the lights out against a near equally great shooting team. It’s a lot to ask, but without a dynamic scoring threat and a ton of depth at every position this may be their biggest shot at an upset.
Their last win over a D-I opponent came against the Portland Pilots (90-78) of the WCC almost a month ago. Back then the Spartans shot 17-33 from three, an impressive 51.5%.
Prediction: Colorado State 80, San Jose State 65
Although coach Miles preached the homecourt advantage aspect, there is another factor at play here. The fact that the Spartans have never defeated Colorado State, no matter the venue. A combined twenty-two losses for all past San Jose State coaches is a big narrative on the mind of this program’s first year head coach.
If Tim Miles can defeat his former assistant and former employer while also logging this program’s first win over their conference foe, I call that a successful Saturday. Do I see that happening? No, but I’d love a surprise this weekend. So instead I’ll stick closer to the KenPom predicted Colorado State win and add a few more points.
Larry Muniz covers college basketball as a writer for Mountain West Wire and WAC Hoops Digest. Also as a co-host of the college basketball podcast “Hoops Talk W/Jay & Larry”. He is also a USWBA Member.