The Colorado State Rams find themselves on the cusp of their first NCAA Tournament bid since 2003, going 19-13 this season to put themselves on the right side of the bubble with the 2012 Mountain West Tournament set to tip off. They haven't earned the right to rest on their laurels just yet, however. Struggles over the second half of the season could create doubt in the minds of the selection committee, especially if they lose their first round game against the TCU Horned Frogs on Thursday.
Following a blowout loss to the Duke Blue Devils on Dec. 7 the Rams reeled off eight straight wins, starting the conference season 2-0 with a double overtime win over the Horned Frogs. Pierce Hornung returned from injury after the loss, and immediately gave CSU a needed boost in the paint, averaging 8.4 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.
The team was hit-or-miss over the rest of the conference season, however, splitting series with the No. 18 San Diego State, No. 20 UNLV and New Mexico. The Rams ultimately finished 8-6 in the Mountain West, including a loss to the Horned Frogs in the second meeting between the two teams in February.
If Colorado State wants to feel at all comfortable about earning their ninth-ever NCAA Tournament bid, a win over TCU this Thursday is an absolute must. Look for them lean on Hornung, as well as leading-scorer Wes Eikmeier (16.0 points per game) as they have all season. The Rams will need to slow down a TCU squad deep with scorers, led by senior guard Hank Thorns.