Air Force Falcons vs. New Mexico Lobos: Series Preview, How To Watch, Odds, More
Winner takes 10th?
Air Force is on a nine game skid. New Mexico slides in on a five game losing streak.
WHO: Air Force Falcons (4-16, 2-14 MW) vs. New Mexico Lobos (5-13, 1-13 MW)
WHEN: Game 1: Monday, February 22 7:30 PM MT
Game 2: Wednesday, February 24 4:00 PM MT
WHERE: Clune Arena – Colorado Springs, CO
TV: Game 1: CBS Sports Network | Game 2: None
Line: Air Force -1.5
SERIES RECORD: New Mexico leads 61-24
During its Wednesday/Friday series a week ago, New Mexico was the home team against the Wyoming Cowboys at the home of the Air Force Falcons: Clune Arena. This time though, they are the away team in the Monday/Wednesday series against the Falcons.
Far from a dream season for either of these teams, the Air Force Falcons and the New Mexico Lobos will square off in what will, in part, help to determine the 9th, 10th and 11th place finishers in the Mountain West, giving either team a (very slight) improvement to their statistical chances in their already long-shot status at winning more than a single game in the Mountain West Conference Tournament, which is just over two weeks away.
Air Force’s first season under new head coach Joe Scott shows that this program is still very much a work in progress after the firing of former head coach Dave Pilipovich who is now Special Assistant to the Head Coach at New Mexico.
46.9% of the Falcons attempts are three point attempts this season and the Falcons are shooting just over 35% from three on the season. And while it seems that just about everything has been a weakness for either team, three point shooting has been especially detrimental to New Mexico on both sides of the ball. For Joe Scott’s team to succeed, they will need to sink the open threes that they’ll almost invariably have on the offensive side of the floor. A.J Walker (15.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.8 steals per game) will likely get his own shots, but he and Chris Joyce (10.8 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.0 steals per game) will need help to spread the floor and keep the threes as open as possible.
Defensively, the Falcons will have to rebound the ball unusually well for a team that averages just 23.4 rebounds per game. The best rebounders on the Falcons’ roster average just over 3 per game, which won’t cut it against a Lobos team that has one of its few strengths in rebounding the basketball.
And that’s exactly where New Mexico will need to shine to secure a victory or two. Rebounding – both offensive and defensive – will be key to giving the Lobos a chance for their first conference sweep. They’ll also need offensive production outside of Makuach Maluach (15.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.0 steals per game) who averaged 23.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2 assists in the Lobos’ series against the Wyoming Cowboys.
But if New Mexico can’t keep the Falcons from making double digit threes, the home team may just be able to secure a first conference sweep of their own.