Itâ€™s not March, but let the madness begin.
Only six games remain for CSU menâ€™s basketball before the Mountain West Conference Tournament, and four are on the road.
At this point in the season, every game for the Rams (17-7, 7-3 MWC) is critical as they compete for a spot in the field of 68 teams that will go to the NCAA Tournament this year.
Just two years removed from not winning a single conference game, the players are being rewarded for their hard work.
â€œItâ€™s a great feeling. Thatâ€™s why I came here,â€ senior Andy Ogide said. â€œPeople come to schools like this thinking that theyâ€™ll change the program, and weâ€™re doing it.â€
The road to Houston begins in nearby Fort Worth, Texas against the Texas Christian Horned Frogs.
TCU (10-16, 1-10 MWC) has lost eight straight games, and the only conference victory for the Horned Frogs was over the University of Wyoming.
â€œThey have nothing to lose, and we got a lot to lose,â€ Ogide said. â€œIt wonâ€™t make or break our season if we lose, but we definitely have to be focused.â€
The Ramsâ€™ latest victory at home over New Mexico provided a cushion in the standings for third place, but another important home game with UNLV is a tempting distraction.
â€œWeâ€™re not good enough to look past anybody,â€ CSU coach Tim Miles said. â€œWeâ€™ve never won at TCU â€¦ since Iâ€™ve been here. Weâ€™ve got to go out and compete and be at our best.â€
CSU defeated the Horned Frogs, 79-69, at Moby Arena Jan. 15 thanks to a double-double performance from Ogide. He finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Sophomore guard Dorian Green does not prepare for the teamâ€™s second meeting based on the previous outcome.
â€œItâ€™s a different game and we are on the road,â€ Green said. â€œItâ€™s kind of unique stuff they run, so we have to be focused and crisp defensively.â€
TCUâ€™s offense is run primarily through guard Ronnie Moss, the fourth leading scorer in the conference, at 15.7 points per game. Moss tallied 17 points and 6 rebounds in Januaryâ€™s contest.
Moss has missed the last five games due to an indefinite suspension, and it is unclear whether he will be available.
â€œWe are going into this game expecting (Moss) to play,â€ Green said. â€œHe gives them another weapon that they use in multiple ways.â€
With UNLV hot on the Ramsâ€™ heels for third place, CSU needs wins against the lower echelon teams in the conference.
Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. and will be televised on The Mtn.
Assistant Sports Editor Cris Tiller can be reached at email@example.com.