FORT COLLINS, Colo. – When the Colorado State men’s basketball team opens the second half of its conference season on Wednesday night against MW preseason favorite San Diego State, the Rams will do so as a nationally ranked program that sits just a half game out in the league’s title race.
Colorado State on Monday morning cracked the AP Media and USA Today Coaches top-25 polls, coming in at No. 24 in both rankings.
“It’s neat for our players and for our program,” said head coach Larry Eustachy. “That’s exciting news for our guys, but we still have to play very difficult games on Wednesday (vs. San Diego State) and then on Saturday (at Air Force).”
It marks the first time that the Rams have been ranked in the AP poll since the 1953-54 season, when the team peaked at No. 18, and was ranked for four weeks overall – Jan. 12 (18th), Feb. 16 (19th), Feb .23 (18th) and March 9 (19th) - en route to the program’s first NCAA tournament appearance.
The recognition makes for a fitting storyline, as the Rams will celebrate the program’s heritage with its annual “Orange Out” this week.
The team will don special jerseys featuring the school’s original colors of “pumpkin” orange and “alfalfa” green, and with the Colorado A&M mascot “Aggies” written across the chest, for Wednesday’s matchup against the Aztecs.
The Rams (19-4, 6-2 MW) are a half game behind conference-leading New Mexico (20-4, 7-2 MW), and ahead of third-place San Diego State (18-5, 6-3 MW) entering play this week.
“I’m not a real ‘poll watcher’ …. But I am extremely aware of where (teams) are in conference,” added Eustachy of his team’s focus on the intensifying Mountain West race. “Our goal is to win a championship. It always has been.
“New Mexico is clearly the team to catch, but there are other teams right behind them that have a chance, and I think that we are one of them. It’s going to come down to who plays the best basketball in the second round of conference play.”
Colorado State also boasts the nation’s third-longest active home win streak, having dispatched 26 straight opponents at Moby Arena, dating back to No. 19, 2011. The streak ranks behind only Syracuse (37) and South Dakota State (28), and ahead of Marquette (22) and Iowa State (20) to round out the top five.