What does CSU basketball's NCAA Tournament resume look like after COVID shutdown?

·4 min read

A lot — and in some ways a little — has happened since the Colorado State men’s basketball team last played a game.

The Rams cracked the top-25 rankings, moved up each week and have now been ranked for three weeks in a row for the first time in program history.

CSU’s record in that period as it has climbed to No. 20 in the polls? 0-0.

The Rams will go almost a month between games due to a COVID-19 shutdown prompted by positive tests within the program before retaking the court Tuesday at home against Air Force (7 p.m., watch on Stadium).

What does this mean for the season and CSU’s NCAA Tournament hopes?

The NCAA Tournament resume so far

CSU (10-0) was left out of the NCAA Tournament last season, one of the last teams eliminated by the committee. CSU had virtually no nonconference resume to speak of after most nonconference play was wiped out due to a COVID-19 shutdown at the start of an already shortened season.

CSU had no wins of note outside Mountain West play in 2020-21.

This year is different. CSU did miss out on a game in Alabama, a potential top-tier win, because of the COVID-19 shutdown. The other two games the Rams didn’t play while shut down (Tulsa and New Mexico) wouldn’t be much help to the resume.

But in those 10 nonconference wins, three are solid resume pieces. The neutral site win over Mississippi State is a Quadrant 1 victory. The neutral site win over Creighton is narrowly Quad 2 with potential to become Quad 1, and the home win over Saint Mary’s is Quad 2 as well.

All three of those teams are currently NCAA Tournament bubble teams. CSU fans should keep an eye on the scores of those three. The more wins they rack up, the better for the Rams.

That resume has CSU sitting No. 24 in NET rankings, a spot that would be an NCAA Tournament lock if the Rams landed there at the end of the season.

What will Mountain West play bring?

The Rams are the preseason favorite to win the league and nonconference play did nothing to change that perception.

That said, it is going to be one heck of a battle in the Mountain West. The bottom of the league has risen (Air Force beat Utah State to open MW play) and the middle and upper portion of the conference is strong. The Mountain West has six teams in the top 65 of the NET, trailing only the Big 12, Big 10, Big East and SEC in number and ahead of the Pac 12.

Always there for the assist: Kendle Moore, Adam Thistlewood more than roommates, teammates

The Rams could have five Quad 1 and 10 or more Quad 2 games in MW play.

That means it will be a difficult gauntlet, but also a great opportunity to lock down an NCAA Tournament bid and boost chances of a strong seed.

What to know about NET rankings

There are a lot of useful metrics to know in college basketball. Top 25 rankings are good for national attention for a program. Advanced metrics like KenPom analyze not only results, but how a team plays and capture what has happened and project into the future. The NCAA’s NET ranking is a central metric used by the NCAA Tournament committee, therefore it is a key one to keep an eye on. It replaced the outdated RPI four seasons ago.

The NET considers game results, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin, net offensive and defensive efficiency, and the quality of wins and losses. The NET highly values road wins.

NET rankings are broken into four quadrants (Quad 1-4) with Quad 1 games being the toughest and Quad 4 being the easiest. To put it simply, a team seeking an NCAA Tournament bid needs to stack as many Quad 1 and 2 wins as possible and avoid Quad 3 and 4 losses.

Quadrant breakdown

What quadrant games land in, based on the NET ranking of opponents:

Quadrant 1: Home 1-30, Neutral 1-50, Away 1-75

Quadrant 2: Home 31-75, Neutral 51-100, Away 76-135

Quadrant 3: Home 76-160, Neutral 101-200, Away 135-240

Quadrant 4: Home 161-353, Neutral 201-353, Away 241-353

Mountain West NET rankings

Here’s how the conference sits as of Jan. 3 (the NET updates daily):

  • 24. Colorado State

  • 32. Wyoming

  • 57. San Diego State

  • 59. Boise State

  • 60. Fresno State

  • 65. Utah State

  • 126. Nevada

  • 157. UNLV

  • 183. New Mexico

  • 215. San Jose State

  • 250. Air Force

Follow Kevin Lytle at twitter.com/Kevin_Lytle and at facebook.com/KevinSLytle. Coloradoan sports can also be followed on Twitter. Support his work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.

This article originally appeared on Fort Collins Coloradoan: Where does CSU men's basketball's NCAA Tournament resume stand?

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting