Rams miss March Madness, take No. 1 seed in NIT

Scott Nies

Isaiah Stevens prepares to shoot after driving towards the basket
Isaiah Stevens (4) prepares to shoot after driving towards the basket, during the Air Force Reserve Mountain West men’s basketball tournament in Las Vegas. The University lost the game 62-50. (Devin Cornelius | The Collegian)

LAS VEGAS — Selection Sunday was a rollercoaster of emotions for the Colorado State University men’s basketball team. 

After losing to Utah State University in the semifinal round of the Air Force Reserve Mountain West Men’s Basketball Championship, the Rams’ chances of making March Madness are very unlikely — but there is still a sliver of hope. 


We get to go play basketball on national television,” –Niko Medved, head coach for CSU men’s basketball

Colorado State is in selection limbo as the second replacement team and will be moved into the 64-team competition pool should a team be forced to withdraw due to COVID-19 issues, according to NCAA rules.

A midnight-hour opportunity is very unlikely, so the Rams will turn to a different avenue of postseason competition in place of an NCAA bid. Narrowly missing out on the big dance puts Colorado State at the top of the competition for the National Invitation Tournament.

Niko Medved’s squad received a No. 1 seed bid and will play the No. 4 seeded University at Buffalo on March 19 in Denton, Texas.

Despite the NCAA snub, this young Ram team has all eyes set on their next postseason venture.

“We all wanted to play, you know, it’s just such a great experience being able to play past the season tournament,” Adam Thistlewood said in a team press conference. “Last year we got it taken away from us, we were all anxious to play then and you this year fingers crossed COVID(-19) doesn’t go two-for-two.”

For a young team, any type of single-elimination experience is valuable. Even more so when this team is ahead of where many thought they would be this early into the Medved era. The Rams are not graduating anyone, so next year it will be most certainly be a goal and likely an expectation of this team to make a deep postseason run.

However, the fact that they were competing on the edge of the NCAA bubble this year is very promising, and capping off an incredible season with a solid campaign in the NIT would be a significant milestone to end the season on.

How can these players get psyched up for the NIT after missing the NCAA? Medved has a very simple answer.

“We get to go play basketball on national television,” he said.

Scott Nies can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @scott_nies98.