No one outside of Albuquerque or Fort Collins thought that New Mexico or Colorado State would be leading the Mountain West Conference at the end of February. Anyone who tells you otherwise is being untruthful. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find a fan of either one of those schools that believed beyond a reasonable doubt that their Lobos or Rams would be leading the conference this deep into the season.
But, nonetheless, they are, and neither squad shows signs of slowing whatsoever down the stretch.
Playing in a conference that most predicted to be controlled by San Diego State and UNLV (at the start of the season, and on paper, these teams seemed to be unbeatable within the conference), New Mexico and Colorado State have thrived, shifting the balance of power and rocking analysis and fans’ outlook –this is why we love college basketball.
New Mexico and Colorado State are 23-4 and 21-6, and ranked number 16 and 22 in the latest AP poll, respectively. Both teams have dominated in victories, as well as proven that they can win close games decided by a possession or two.
While New Mexico finds themselves ranked amongst the top defensive teams in the Mountain West, giving up less than 61 points per game, Colorado State is leading the conference in scoring margin, beating their opponents by an average of 13 points per contest – a ridiculously impressive number.
Much of a team’s success is determined by their ability to play well together, as a whole. Any squad can have a group of individual stars – guys who put up terrific statistics – but unless the young men can play together, their chances of winning games are slim. This isn’t an issue for the Rams or Lobos.
Though both teams do have a go-to scorer, neither school has a single player averaging more than 14 points per game. Each and every player has bought into their respective coach’s system, sharing the ball, crashing the boards, and playing defense for the betterment of the whole, never worrying about singular numbers – something evident when watching them play.
The two teams squared off on Saturday in a game that may have likely determine the outcome of the conference. New Mexico tallied the win in a 91-82 shootout. Lobos guard Kendall Williams dropped 46 points on 12 of 16 shooting, and made an unprecedented 10 of 13 three-pointers to lead help his squad to victory. It provided terrific television for both teams’ entire campus, as well as for the average college basketball fan that felt like treating themselves to some above average basketball on a Saturday afternoon.
Before we know it, we’ll be flipping another page on our calendars, bringing us to a college basketball fan’s favorite month: March. So it’s go time for these two squads – particularly for Colorado State who will need to bounce back to hold off a creeping UNLV. Neither team is prepared to give another inch to the other. Enjoy, America.