Colorado St. Rams vs. Denver Pioneers Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 6th 2023


Coach Niko Medved has an idea why his Colorado State team has gone from unranked when the season started to No. 13 and still rising.

“They’re fighters and they find a way,” he said Saturday after the Rams outlasted Washington 86-81 in Las Vegas. “We’ve been doing that all year. This is our fourth straight high-major game that we’ve played, and we’ve been able to find a way to win all of them. So it’s nothing that we haven’t seen before.”

Colorado State (8-0) will try to maintain its perfect mark when it takes a break from Power 6 opponents to host Denver on Wednesday in Fort Collins, Colo.

The Rams build their success primarily around a high-scoring, efficient offense, although their defense can’t be overlooked. Per, they enter this game ranked sixth in Division I in adjusted offensive efficiency with 119.4 points per 100 possessions. Their 52.7 percent success on field-goal attempts also rated sixth in the country through the weekend.

A major reason for those numbers is 6-foot senior guard Isaiah Stevens, who is averaging a team-high 17.1 points per game and 7.9 assists, with the latter figure tied for second in Division I. But as the victory over Washington proved, the Rams are more than the guy who runs the show.

On a day when Stevens found foul trouble and managed just 12 points on 5-of-13 shooting, four other Colorado State players scored in double figures. Joel Scott led the way with 17, drilling a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 1:10 remaining.

The 6-foot-7 Scott, who was the Division II Player of the Year last season at Black Hills State, hasn’t had a problem playing at the higher level. He is scoring 14.9 points and grabbing a team-high 6.8 rebounds per game, giving the Rams much-needed inside-outside balance.

Colorado State ranked seventh in the first NET ratings of the season on Monday. Its best win was a 21-point walloping of then-No. 8 Creighton on Thanksgiving Day.

Denver (6-3) comes to town with a four-game winning streak, courtesy of a 90-66 blowout Saturday against Division III Colorado College. The Pioneers got 23 points from Touko Tainamo, leading four players in double figures, and earned a 27-11 advantage in made free throws.

Denver was picked for a last-place finish in the nine-team Summit League. Coach Jeff Wulbrun’s team has cut its turnovers dramatically from 15 per game to 9.2, one of the lowest rated in the country.

The 1-2 punch of Tommy Bruner (23.6 ppg) and Tainamo (19.2) has helped the Pioneers average 83.6 ppg despite shooting only 43.6 percent from the field. Utah transfer Jaxon Brenchley has enabled Bruner to move off the point by posting a gaudy 32-7 assist-turnover ratio while chipping in 9.6 ppg.

Bruner’s scoring average is up by nearly eight points per game.

“He can break down a defense and get to the hip of the defender at will,” Wulbrun said. “He may be the best point guard in the conference.”

The Rams own a 15-3 lead in the all-time series as Division I foes, winning six of the past seven matchups. The most recent meeting was a 74-63 Colorado State victory at Fort Collins on Nov. 5, 2019.

The Pioneers last beat a ranked foe on Feb. 15, 1971, when they downed then-No. 15 Utah State 96-74.

–Field Level Media

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