Let’s try this again.
For the second time in the past three weeks, the UNM Lobos are in Fort Collins expecting to play a game against the Colorado State Rams.
Only this time, the Lobos (6-14, 2-14 Mountain West) are riding out the stretch with a coach who announced his resignation on Friday, and the title-hopeful Rams are more than a little upset with decisions the Mountain West has made about which games are being made up this week and which ones are not.
For the Rams (16-4, 14-3 MWC), a team currently tied for first place in the standings and firmly on most everyone’s NCAA Tournament “bubble” with an NET rating of 40, the two UNM games they missed Feb. 9 and 11 turned into one makeup game (Wednesday in Fort Collins). Meanwhile, the two games the Lobos chose not to play against San Diego State (19-4, 13-3) on Feb. 3 and 5 will not be made up and were deemed by the league to count as “forfeits” only if they would affect conference tournament seedings or the regular season champion.
Well, fast forward to this final week on the schedule before next week’s MWC tournament, and SDSU and CSU are tied. The Aztecs play at UNLV on Wednesday and the Rams follow the UNM game with a road trip to Nevada on Friday.
If both win out, SDSU will be 14-3 and CSU will be 15-3 — but SDSU will be champion because the two SDSU-UNM games that weren’t played will boost them to 16-3, which doesn’t sit well with the Rams.
“I can go on the record and say I don’t think that’s fair,” said CSU coach Niko Medved, whose Rams are also upset they’re playing four games in a seven-day stretch before the league tournament. “… I mean, I know that this year has been a little bit crazy but if we’re talking about being fair, I don’t believe that that’s fair.”
He also said none of it matters if his team doesn’t take care of business and win. Fellow NCAA Tournament bubble team Boise State knows that all too well after a Tuesday night home loss to Fresno State in which the Broncos were 13.5-point favorites.
CSU Athletic Director Joe Parker, also smarting after he learned Monday night the league decided to send his first-place women’s team to Albuquerque to play the second place Lobos in the Pit with a league title on the line, took to Twitter early Tuesday morning expressing frustration with the league and fellow athletic directors about what is happening to his teams.
As for the men, the Feb., 9 game against the Lobos was called off after an 11th-hour decision from Larimer County (Colo.) health officials that led to the teams being pulled off the court 30 minutes before tip-off, though nobody on the Lobos travel party had tested positive for COVID-19 (an assistant coach had come in contact with somebody who was positive three days prior to the game, so the postponement was precautionary).
The Lobos, meanwhile, haven’t had players or coaches talk to media since last week’s loss at Air Force and will be playing their first game since the Friday resignation of head coach Paul Weir, who will remain as the coach through next week’s tournament.