The Mountain West Conference is divided into two extremes â€“â€“Â the top and the bottom. And the CSU Rams sit exactly in the middle.
The Rams (15-11, 6-6 MWC) have had success against struggling teams this season, going a perfect 6-0 against the MWCâ€™s bottom four but have been unable to upset the top of the conference, failing to pick up a win in six attempts.
Rams head coach Tim Miles said that it is imperative for his team to find away to knock off the MWCâ€™s best if they want to accomplish anything.
â€œYou always think you can find a way to beat those guys,â€ he said prior to practice Monday. â€œAll year, we donâ€™t have a bad loss, but we donâ€™t have a great win.â€
â€œFor those of us who aspire for more thatâ€™s frustrating, but at the same time, I know weâ€™ve shown progress,â€ he said. â€œWe just have to keep our nose to the grindstone and come out with a win.â€
CSU forward Travis Franklin said he is convinced the Rams should be compared to teams at the top of the MWC including UNLV and San Diego State. The junior said that the team just has to show it.
â€œI think we match up with them pretty good,â€ Franklin said. â€œItâ€™s not the talent level; we just have to find a way to beat those teams.â€
â€œThey are great teams, donâ€™t get me wrong. Iâ€™m not taking anything from them,â€ he said. â€œWe just have to play hard to find a way to beat them and go in with a lot of confidence knowing we can beat them.â€
CSUâ€™s next opportunity at beating a top-level conference team is set for tonight as the Rams welcome the No. 10 New Mexico Lobos (25-3 11-2) to Moby Arena. The green and gold have struggled against the Lobos recently, going 0-5 during the Tim Miles era at CSU including a tough 82-64 loss earlier this season.
New Mexico enters the game on a red-hot, 11-game winning streak, most recently squeaking past Air Force 59-56.
The Rams, by comparison, have struggled the past week, dropping two straight games by an average of 26.5 points. Even with the teamâ€™s slump, Miles thinks the Rams can shock the Lobos and finally get a victory against a winning MWC team.
â€œItâ€™s got to be somebody,â€ he said. â€œThey are good on the boards and they get fouled. We foul too much, so that worries me. But at the same time, weâ€™ve been a very good home team, and Iâ€™d like to think this (New Mexico) is a team we can find a way to beat.â€
CSU is 10-3 within the friendly confines of Moby Arena this season but has lost three of its last four games there.
Senior Travis Busch said that there is only one cure for the Ramsâ€™ current struggles, and thatâ€™s a win.
â€œWin, just get a win,â€ the forward said. â€œDo whatever it takes to get a win, itâ€™s that simple. Just come out and be hungry for it and do whatever we have to get a win.â€
With postseason hopes dwindling, Franklin said he acknowledges that the team needs a signature win to help their cause. The Louisiana native said a win against the Lobos would be the perfect jump start.
â€œWe need to win some more games to get into the postseason. A win against New Mexico would be big. It would almost guarantee a postseason berth.â€
In an attempt to draw a large crowd for tonightâ€™s game, the Rams are offering gold T-shirts to the first 1,000 students through the doors of Moby Arena.
Tip off is scheduled for 8 p.m.
Assistant Sports Editor Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at email@example.com.
Tonightâ€™s Game: CSU vs. New Mexico
Time: 8 p.m.
Where: Moby Arena
Watch: The Mtn.