Mountain West Tournament Odds & Picks: Why We Like Colorado State To Win Championship
Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images. Pictured: Isaiah Stevens (4) of the Colorado State Rams
There’s still a long list of conferences yet to crown champions, with 15 championship games on Saturday followed by five more before the NCAA Tournament bracket is released on Sunday.
In order to help you navigate the jam-packed week of college basketball, our analysts have come together to deliver their top picks to win each of the remaining Power 6 and high-major conference tournaments.
You’ll find their favorite outright bet for the Mountain West Tournament below. Be sure to also check out their picks for the Big 12, Big East and more conference tournaments here.
Mountain West Tournament
Collin Wilson: Colorado State +600
There could not be a better draw for the Rams, sitting with a bye as the No. 3 seed and being on the other side of the bracket, away from San Diego State and Nevada.
Colorado State has been hot through conference play in racking up 11 victories in 13 games before suffering a short loss at Nevada. No team in the Mountain West has had a better effective field goal percentage since February 1st. Per Tovik Rank, the Rams have been in the top three in adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency over the past five weeks.
Colorado State did sit for multiple weeks in February due to a COVID-19 disruption with scheduled opponents New Mexico and Nevada.
The layoff did nothing to deter the offense of the Rams, which is heavily reliant on point distribution from beyond the arc. More importantly, this is a play on a team in the charity-stripe department. The Rams are third in the Mountain West in free-throw rate and first in free-throw percentage.
That is the profile of a team to invest in when single elimination play is at hand, but it also helps when the tournament draw puts the best teams on the other side of the bracket.
Pick: Colorado State +600
Mike Randle: Colorado State +600
For my money, the Rams have been the best team in the Mountain West all season.
They fell short of a regular-season title due to an 85-82 end-of-season road loss at Nevada and two shaky forfeit wins gifted to San Diego State. Regardless, the Rams have shown their talent and resiliency all season.
Colorado State is the only Mountain West team to defeat San Diego State, Utah State, and Boise State. The Rams feature a guard-heavy lineup, led by last season’s Mountain West Freshman of the Year Isaiah Stevens (15 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 5.7 APG, 42.2% 3P). Juniors Kendle Moore (10.9 PPG, 37.6% 3P) and Adam Thistlewood (9.9 PPG, 39.6% 3P) help stretch opposing defenses out away from the basket.
Their only real interior presence is undersized sophomore David Roddy (16.3 PPG, 9.6 RPG,.2.8 APG). What the Rams lack in size, they makeup for with offensive efficiency and elite perimeter defense. Colorado State ranks first in conference play in adjusted offensive efficiency, effective field goal percentage, and 2-point percentage allowed, while holding opponents to just 31.1% from beyond the arc.
In a close game, head coach Niko Medved’s squad always holds an advantage, shooting 80.8% from the free-throw line.
The Rams will likely face Utah State in the semifinals, a team they already defeated on the road on Jan. 21. They avoid three of the other teams that defeated them until the finals: Nevada, San Diego State, and Boise State.