Strike 1: Around here, football gets the attention, but it’s the college basketball coaches who are delivering the goods.

He wasn’t named Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year, but Tad Boyle is the best men’s coach on the campus at the University of Colorado.

He doesn’t have the lengthy and impressive resumé of his football counterpart, but Niko Medved is the best men’s coach at Colorado State.

There are better stories, but there aren’t better coaches than these two.

They met up last week in Fort Collins with CSU – ranked 20th and sure to rise this week after beating two Pac-12 teams – beating the Buffs 88-83. It was a hard-fought game that featured two teams who mirror the demeanor and personal discipline of their head coaches.

Like quarterbacks, point guards are the “coach on the court” and the most direct extension of the head man. The two involved in the down-to-the-wire battle at Moby were sensational. CU’s K.J. Simpson poured in 30 points and added four assists. He single handedly kept the Buffs in the game in the first half, and his cool as a cucumber handling of the CU offense in the second half led them back from a 15-point halftime deficit. Simpson looked every bit an All-American.

Rams point guard Isiah Stevens had a lot of preseason hype to live up to, and he’s doing just that as a floor leader, facilitator and clutch scorer. After spending the first half distributing (six assists and just two points in the first half) Stevens took over down the stretch, finishing with a 20-point/11-assist double-double. He closed things out with a couple of huge buckets before inviting the CSU students down to the court to celebrate.

He’s also playing like an All-American early in the season.

Compare that to the quarterbacks. Sure, Shedeur Sanders led an amazing comeback against the Rams and was crucial to the Buffs pulling out an exciting, but sloppy game at the end. But he also instigated a pregame altercation that bled over into the game and turned things ugly. He threw a pick six, and was overly boastful and undisciplined throughout. As for CSU freshman QB Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi, yes, he threw for a ton or yards and three touchdowns at Folsom Field, but he also threw three interceptions including a pick six. Equal parts good and bad in the same game.

That’s not good enough.

While the CU football team led all “Power five” programs in penalties (107), giving up quarterback sacks (56 for 492 yards in losses) and halftime online auctions, Boyle’s team is physical, relentless and tough in the paint – which you might consider basketball’s “line of scrimmage.” Facing that halftime deficit in a raucous and hostile Moby Arena, Boyle’s adjustments and his team’s solid execution – the Buffs shot almost 70% from the field in the second half (55% for the game) and finished the night making 19 of 21 free throw attempts – almost brought them back.

On the other side, Jay Norvell should have his team watch film of Medved’s crew and see what relentless defense and clutch play looks like. The Rams were also one of the most penalized football teams in the country this past season, getting flagged 92 times, while tying for 109th in turnover margin (-5) after coughing up the ball 25 times, including 18 interceptions.

Medved’s team knows how to take care of the ball and take it away, too. The Rams had 10 steals and just seven turnovers while shooting better than 40% from three point land. Five different Rams scored in double figures, including CU transfer Nique Clifford, who went for 15 points and six boards against his former team.

Colorado’s outstanding receiver/defensive back Travis Hunter has an NFL future to be sure, but the best young pro prospect in Boulder right now is current Buffs forward Cody Williams. The highly touted five-star recruit from Gilbert, Arizona spent the first half in FoCo searching for a way to fit in to Boyle’s offense. The second half, however, was a coming out party of sorts for the 6-foot-8 wing, who showed exactly why he’s being looked at as a one-and-done NBA prospect. After going scoreless in the first half, Williams scored 21 in the second half and was borderline unstoppable. He did it again a few nights later when the Buffs pounded Pepperdine.

Williams will be a standout in the Pac-12 this season and in the NBA this time next year.

Both these programs are in a great place right now. Neither head coach is hawking merchandise on TV and neither is a daily feature in national media headlines. Instead, both have their respective squads playing like a Top 25 team.

We don’t have bowl games to look forward to around here, but we do have a pair of local basketball teams who will both be playing in March.