Air Force vs. Colorado State: Game Preview
Rams look for sweep of Falcons on senior night.
Colorado State looks for a win on senior night as they welcome in-state foe, Air Force.
WHO: Air Force Falcons (11-18, 5-12 Mountain West) At Colorado State Rams (19-11, 10-7 Mountain West)
WHEN: Saturday, February 29th—1:00 PM PST/2:00 PM MST/4:00 PM EST
WHERE: Moby Arena, Fort Collins, CO
SERIES RECORD: Colorado State leads all-time series 81-33
The end of the 2019-2020 regular season is almost upon us and with it comes one of the more bittersweet aspects of college basketball, senior night.
The Rams say goodbye to Hyron Edwards, Kris Martin and a familiar name to college basketball fans everywhere Nico Carvacho. Head coach Niko Medvid found had success in his second year in charge in Fort Collins and look to end the regular season with a win at home before heading to Las Vegas next week for the Mountain West Conference tournament.
Air Force had their senior night on Wednesday when they hosted the Lobos in a narrow 2-point victory. But will have five seniors playing their final regular season game Saturday afternoon against the Rams in LeSean Brown, Caleb Morris, Sid Tomes, Lavelle Scottie and Ryan Swan.
The last time these two met was back on January 18th when the Rams traveled south and left with a 13-point win in Clune Arena. Senior Kris Martin scored what still stands as his season high that night with 19 points on 4-7 shooting from deep and another big performance could provide a nice senior night momentum for Martin. The Falcons had two players score a team high 16-points a piece in that loss with Lavelle Scottie and Sid Tomes combining for 11-18 made field goals on the night.
Air Force is coming off of a nice win at home against New Mexico, while Colorado State is coming off of a close loss to the regular season conference champions San Diego State. This in-state match up means a lot for these two schools but a win for either will provide much needed momentum going into next week.
Air Force is currently sitting in seventh place in the conference standings and are playing for a sixth conference win to end the regular season. If Air Force loses while on the road on Saturday afternoon they will finish in nine place on the season, only one spot lower than previously picked by the media in preseason. But a win will place them in a possible three way tie for sixth with Fresno State and New Mexico who also playing their final games this weekend.
The Rams like the Falcons are just playing for tournament positioning at this point. A best case scenario would be a 5th place finish which they would share with Boise State. But Colorado isn’t in a bad spot and don’t have the possibility of a huge drop in the standings with ten wins currently and no team below them closer than six.
Match up of the night: Two “youthful” guards
The Stats: Walker (10.3 PPG, 3.5 RPG & 3.1 APG) & Stevens (12.9 PPG, 3.0 RPG & 4.5 APG)
Tonight’s key match up will be between sophomore A.J. Walker and freshman Isaiah Stevens, who both lead that team’s as floor generals in just their second and first season’s. These guys are the future of their respective teams and will play plenty of basketball against each other in the near future, so let’s get a glance of this mainstay match up one more time on Saturday.
Walker stepped into starting role full time during conference play last season as a freshman and has seen a bump in production this season as the full time starter. This team will say goodbye to five seniors this off season and four of them regular starters in the rotation. In short, this should be Walker’s team next season and he should enjoy the proven options he will have alongside him for the couple of more games he has them there.
Isaiah Stevens has had a major impact in his first season in Fort Collins, and alongside some other stellar sophomores and freshman is a part of a group solidifying a Ram’s resurgence in the conference for years to come. He’s leading the team in scoring and assists but struggled to do either last time Colorado State faced Air Force on the road with 11 points on 3-7 FGs and 2 assists on the night.
Prediction: Colorado State 85, Air Force 70
The last time these two teams met the Rams were able to come away with a thirteen-point win in a close one on the road. The Falcons haven’t beat the Rams since back in 2018 when they completed their own regular season sweep. Colorado State has an 81-33 all-time lead on the series which get’s even more impressive when you look at their home record in that span, which is 43-11.
If Air Force wanted to beat Colorado State it would have been easier on their home turf. But hey this is college basketball right, anything is possible but I think the Rams make this a special senior night win.
The X-Factor: Nico Carvacho
It’s senior night for the big guy, and no one has been more dominant on the glass in a Ram’s uniform this decade. Carvacho will leave the Mountain West as it’s all-time leading rebounder with 1,271 to his name at the time this article is published.
On Saturday he will look to take advantage of a much smaller Air Force frontcourt. Last time around the big man had trouble scoring, only notching ten-points, but in true Carvacho fashion grabbed 13 boards.
A big night rebounding and scoring from Carvacho could be the difference in this one, but he needs some help as they were out rebounded 40-30 last time around. Those other guys need to get used to crashing the glass without the senior present next year, might as well start Saturday.