Game notes: Rams battle sixth-seeded Racers to open NCAA tournament
March 13, 2012
Colorado State (11) vs. No. 12/9 Murray State (6) | Game 32 | NCAA West Region Second Round
|COLORADO STATE RAMS||MURRAY STATE RACERS|
|CSU STATISTICAL LEADERS||MSU STATISTICAL LEADERS|
The Colorado State men's basketball team returns to the NCAA Championship tournament for the first time since 2003 - and the ninth time in program history - traveling to Louisville, Ky., as an 11 seed to face off against the No. 6-seeded Murray State Racers in the second round of the tournament.
Tipoff between the Rams and the Racers is set for 12:15 p.m. EDT/10:15 a.m. MDT and the game will be broadcast live in high definition on CBS.
Verne Lundquist (play-by-play) and Bill Raftery (analyst) will call the action courtside, along with Lesley Visser (sideline). The game can be found Comcast Digital Cable (Channel 4 and 654), DirecTV (4) and Dish Network (4).
Streaming video of all tournament games is also available at NCAA.com/MarchMadness.
Brian Roth will have the call on the Colorado State Sports Network, 560 AM KLZ (Denver) and 600 AM KCOL (Fort Collins).
Gametracker is available at CSURams.com and NCAA.com
Rams in the field of 68
The Colorado State men's basketball team earned an at-large bid into the 2012 NCAA Championship tournament field of 68 when the bracket was revealed Sunday afternoon on CBS.
The tournament berth marks the ninth in program history for Colorado State, and will be the Rams' first tournament appearance since 2003.
Colorado State is seeded 11th in the tournament field, the first time that CSU has been seeded as an 11.
Other 11 seeds are rival Colorado (South Region), Texas (East), and North Carolina State (Midwest).
The Rams' first game of the tournament, in the second round, will pit CSU against the team with the best record in the country, the sixth-seeded Murray State Racers (30-1).
MW foes in the NCAA Field
The No. 11-seeded Rams are one of four teams from the Mountain West to compete in the 2012 NCAA Championships.
Regular-season co-champion New Mexico earned the league's automatic bid at the 2012 MW tournament and received a No. 5 seed, also in the West Region, from the NCAA selection committee.
San Diego State, which tied with UNM for the league's regular-season title and lost to the Lobos in the tournament championships, is seeded sixth in the Midwest Region.
UNLV also earned a No. 6 seed in the tournament and will face a foe familiar to Colorado State, the No. 11-seeded Colorado Buffaloes, in the South Region.
A look at the West Region Bracket
Colorado State will compete in the bracket's West Region, beginning in Louisville, Ky., March 15 and 17, for the second and third rounds, and feeding into Phoenix, Ariz., March 22 and 24, for the Regional Semifinals and Finals.
Seedings for the West Region are as follows: No. 1 Michigan State, No. 2 Missouri, No. 3 Marquette, No. 4, Louisville, No. 5 New Mexico, No. 6 Murray State, No. 7 Florida, No. 8 Memphis, No. 9 Saint Louis, No. 10 Virginia, No. 11 Colorado State, No. 12 Long Beach State, No. 13 Davidson, No. 14 BYU or Iona (First Four matchup), No. 15 Norfolk St. and No. 16 LIU Brooklyn.
The 2012 Final Four will be held March 31-April 2 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, La.
Colorado State Quick Hits
Colorado State's basketball history dates back to 1902, and the 2011-12 season marks the 108th for the program. The Rams are 1,129-1,169 (.491) in 2,298 games entering Thursday's NCAA opener against Murray State.
Colorado State enters the NCAA tourney 20-11, becoming the seventh team in program history to reach the 20-win mark.
The Rams finished the Mountain West race alone in fourth place in the league standings with an 8-6 mark.
The Rams' MW tourney quarterfinal win over fifth-seeded TCU gave CSU 20 wins on the season, marking the seventh 20-win season in program history.
CSU boasts the No. 4-rated strength of schedule in the nation, as ranked by the NCAA through games played March 12. It is the top mark in the Mountain West.
Colorado State also owns a strong Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) score of 29. The RPI is one metric used by the NCAA tournament committee when selecting at-large participants in the 68-team bracket.
Pierce Hornung's 14-rebound performance in the Rams' quarterfinal victory over TCU set an MW tourney record for the Rams, eclipsing the 13 rebounds pulled down by former NBA first-round selection Jason Smith against SDSU in the 2007 first round.
Dorian Green sunk a pair of free throws at the 7:48 mark of the second half vs. TCU to become the 19th player in program history to reach the 1,000-point plateau.
The Rams rank as one of the most efficient offensive teams in the country, leading the Mountain West in field-goal percentage (.476, 25th nationally), three-point percentage (.405, sixth nationally), and free-throw percentage (.769, sixth nationally) entering the NCAA tournament.
Colorado State's roster features a rare combination of youth and experience in 2011-12, with just two seniors - Kaipo Sabas and Will Bell - on the squad, and five juniors that have combined to play 476 career games in the green and gold.
The 2011-12 CSU basketball team turned in one of the best home records in program history, going 14-1 and rattling off 13 straight wins at Moby Arena to close out the 2011-12 regular season.
The Rams' 13-game win streak at home ranked tied for 13th nationally through the end of the regular season.
The Rams completed a 7-0 mark at Moby Arena in Mountain West play, joining CSU's nationally ranked volleyball team, and the Rams' resurgent women's program to combine for a 21-0 mark at Moby Arena against league foes in 2011-12.
The Rams' 14-1 mark at home in 2011-12, set a Moby Arena record for single-season winning percentage at .933. The previous record was set during the 1989-90 season when the Rams went 13-1 (.929) at Moby Arena and also qualified for the NCAA tournament as an at-large team.
Colorado State faced a school-record four different ranked teams in 2011-12, playing seven games against top-25 opponents, the second-largest total in program history behind the 1950-51 squad that played four games each against ranked foes from BYU and Wyoming.
The Rams' NCAA opener against No. 12/9 Murray State will mark CSU's eighth game of the season against a top-25 opponent, tying the record set by the 1950-51 squad.
The Rams defeated three ranked teams throughout the 2011-12 season, establishing a school record for most victories over top-25 opponents in a single year.
Colorado State won eight consecutive games from Dec. 19 through Jan. 17, tying for the fifth-longest win streak in program history.
Colorado State posted an impressive mark against its Front Range rivals - Air Force, Colorado, Denver, Northern Colorado and Wyoming - during the 2011-12 season, finishing 6-1 in those contests.
Colorado State crowds at Moby Arena averaged more than 4,000 fans per game (4,193) for the second consecutive season, the first time CSU crowds have reached the 4,000-fan plateau in consecutive years since 2005-06 (4,303) and 2006-07 (4,620).
The Rams competed in the Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off in 2011-12, posting a 3-1 mark, including a pair of home victories over UTEP and Manhattan in the consolation rounds at Moby Arena.
CSU took home the tournament title at the Bank of the West Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational, opening with a road victory over host UTEP before defeating Jacksonville State in the tournament championship.
About Murray State
The Murray State Racers cruised through the 2011-12 season with just one blemish, a 72-68 setback to Tennessee State on Feb. 9.
Since then, Murray State has won seven consecutive games, and overall boasts a record of 30-1, the highest win-loss percentage in the nation.
Murray State is appearing in its 15th NCAA tournament, and the program's second tourney appearance in the last three seasons. In their history, the Racers are 2-14 in the NCAA tourney.
The Racers are very efficient on both sides of the ball, ranking in the nation's top 40 in both scoring offense (74.2 points per game, 39th) and scoring defense (61.2 points per game, 37th).
Breaking it down further, the Racers' offense ranks 23rd in overall field-goal percentage (47.7) and fifth in three-point field-goal percentage (44.4).
Their defense is arguably stronger, with the team averaging 8.4 steals per game (21st nationally) and ranking 12th in three-point field-goal defense (29.5 percent).
Individually, junior Isaiah Canaan leads the charge, posting an average of 19.2 points per game, and ranking fourth in the NCAA in three-point shooting, connecting on 47.3 percent of his shots. Additionally, Canaan leads Murray State in assists (116) and ranks second in steals (42).
Aside from Canaan, two other Racers - seniors Donte Pool (14.2 ppg) and Ivan Aska (10.9 ) - average double-figure scoring
All three leading scorers shoot 45 percent or better from the floor and 84 percent from the free-throw line. Poole leads the squad in steals (62), while Aska is the team's top rebounder (5.7 rpg).
The Racers are an impressive 17-0 away from their home court, including a 4-0 mark at neutral sites.
Murray State has plenty of experience, with 10 of its 13 players upperclassmen (seven juniors, three seniors).
Head coach Steve Prohm is in his first season leading the Racers program, after spending five seasons as an assistant coach at the school.
Series vs. Murray State
Thursday's matchup between the Rams and Racers is the first ever between the schools.
The Rams vs. the Ohio Valley Confernce
Thursday's matchup between Colorado State and Murray State marks the Rams' 13th matchup all-time against the current membership of the Ohio Valley Conference.
CSU is 8-4 in previous games vs. the OVC, having faced eight of the league's 11 schools.
The Rams also have some recent postseason history with the OVC, as Head Coach Tim Miles and the Rams visited Morehead State in the first round of the 2010 College Basketball Invitational.
Colorado State won its only matchup of the 2011-12 eason against a member of the OVC, defeating the Jacksonville State Gamecocks, 79-56, on Dec. 29 in the championship game of the Don Haskins Bank of the West Sun Bowl Invitational in El Paso, Texas.
A win over Murray State will...
Advance CSU to the third round of the NCAA tournament. The Rams also advanced beyond their opening-round games during the 1969 and 1989 NCAA tournaments.
Be CSU's fourth win over a ranked opponent this season. The Rams have already won a record three games against ranked opponents in 2011-12.
Give the Rams their highest-ranked win since Jan. 19, 1984 when CSU downed No. 5-ranked UTEP.
Improve the Rams' win total to 21, tying for fourth-most in program history, and most since the 1989-90 season.
Improve CSU's record to 4-9 in NCAA tournament games.
Match the Rams in the third round against either Marquette or the winner of the "First Four" game between BYU-Iona.
A loss to Murray State will...
Bring the Rams' 2011-12 season to an end with a final record of 20-12.
Tie for the Rams' fifth-most wins in program history with 20, the first CSU team to reach 20 wins since the 1997-98 season.
Push the Rams' all-time record in NCAA tournament games to 3-10.
With a victory, Colorado State would continue play in the 2012 NCAA Championship tournament, advancing to Saturday's third round for a potential matchup against third-seeded Marquette, or the winner of the "First Four" game between 14th seeds BYU and Iona.
Back-to-back-to-back postseason berths
Head Coach Tim Miles will become the third coach in school history to lead the Rams to three consecutive postseason berths in 2011-12, having guided the Rams to the 2010 CBI and the 2011 NIT, and taking the Rams to the brink of an NCAA tournament berth with a 19-10 record to close out the regular season.
CSU has made three straight postseason appearances twice in program history, under head coaches Jim Williams (1961-63) and Boyd Grant (1988-90):
1960-61 (NIT), 1961-62 (NIT) and 1962-63 (NCAA)
1987-88 (NIT), 1988-89 (NCAA) and 1989-90 (NCAA)