Predicting Air Force Basketball’s Non-Conference Win/Loss Results
The Falcons have a few chances to pick up solid wins
Predicting Air Force’s non-conference basketball results in ‘19-20
The stars may be aligning for Air Force to have a successful season. Dave Pilipovich brings back just about 95 percent of the offense from last year’s sixth-place finisher in the Mountain West, including seniors Lavelle Scottie and Ryan Swan. Here’s a peek at the Falcons’ 12 non-conference matchups and how they will shake out.
Nov. 7: Idaho State
WIN: The Bengals finished near the bottom of the Big Sky a year ago and top scorer Brandon Boyd transferred out of the program. The Falcons shouldn’t have too much trouble in Game 1.
Nov. 9: Texas State
LOSS: Danny Kaspar’s squad won 24 games a year ago and Nijal Pearson is coming off an All-Sun Belt selection. This one could cause some headaches.
Nov. 12: at Army
WIN: Matthew Wilson is a nice player for the Black Knights, but Scottie and Swan should still find plenty of room to operate.
Nov. 18: at TCU
LOSS: This will likely be the Falcons’ only Quadrant 1 game in non-conference play. Unfortunately, Desmond Bane is on the other side for the Horned Frogs.
Nov. 21: vs. Loyola Marymount (Junkanoo Jam)
WIN: 7-foot-3 Mattias Markusson creates some obvious matchup problems in the Bahamas, but the Lions will struggle to replace James Batemon’s scoring punch.
Nov. 22: vs. Duquesne (Junkanoo Jam)
LOSS: Sincere Carry (12.1 PPG, 5.8 APG, 2.4 SPG) is coming off a spectacular freshman season. Keith Dambrot has the Dukes trending upward heading into the year.
Nov. 24: vs. Indiana State (Junkanoo Jam)
WIN: The Sycamores have a dynamic backcourt pairing in Tyreke Key and Jordan Barnes, but they don’t have much size returning, which benefits the Falcons equally-undersized squad.
Dec. 1: Jackson State
WIN: Last year’s third-place SWAC team loses two of its top three scorers. This should be the easiest D1 game on the slate for Air Force.
Dec. 14: at Denver
WIN: Rodney Billups’ Pioneers were a mess last season. This in-state matchup is a great chance to pick up a road win.
Dec. 17: Johnson & Wales (CO)
WIN: The only non-Division I game in the Falcons’ non-conference slate. It won’t help their NET ranking, but it should be a confidence builder anyway.
Dec. 21: Drake
WIN: The Bulldogs are primed to take a step back after losing huge talents in Nick Norton and Nick McGlynn. Tremell Murphy is a player to watch here.
Dec. 31: UC Riverside
WIN: There are plenty of Big West teams to be leery of, but Riverside isn’t really one of them. Air Force should head into the New Year on a high note.
Projected non-conference W-L record: 9-3
Takeaway: This schedule seems like a good fit for the Falcons’ talent level. There are a couple games that could end up in Quadrant 1 or 2, bookended by handful of extremely winnable games. If Air Force can avoid the upset against Texas State and pick up a win over TCU or Duquesne, they would have a solid case for postseason play, so long as they keep their head above water in the MWC.
Andrew Dieckhoff covers basketball for Mountain West Wire. He also runs the Dieckhoff Power Index, a website for college basketball analytics and bracketology.