This is it. We have reached the climax of the MWC in spectacular fashion. New Mexico and Colorado State lay it all on the line in a game that very well may determine the victor of the MWC. Both teams have so much to gain from this game, and so much to lose. New Mexico looks to extend their lead to two games over the MWC while the Rams look to tie for the lead and grab a share of the MWC. The first game of this series provided us with a close game with an exciting finish so hopefully we will see another close game as Colorado State looks to extend their home court winning streak to 28 and get revenge against the Lobos.
When: Saturday, February 23, 4:00 p.m. ET
Where: Moby Arena, Fort Collins, Colo.
Watch: NBC Sports Network
G Demetrius Walker (Knee-Questionable)
While it is up for debate, I believe that New Mexico has the most talented backcourt in the MWC. The New Mexico backcourt is led by G Kendall Williams (13.1 PPG-3.6 RPG-4.6 APG) and is followed by G Tony Snell (11.6 PPG-2.7 APG) and G Hugh Greenwood (7.8 PPG-5.2 RPG). In the Lobos last five games, this trio has hit 40 percent from the field, taken 33 percent of their shots inside, where they have hit 48 percent and have taken the other 67 percent outside the paint, where they have hit 36 percent. This trio has taken 55 percent of their 67 percent shots outside the arc where they have hit 36 percent. Snell is the most dangerous outside the arc, as he has hit 37 percent all season.
Weakness: Mid-range Jumper
While the Lobo offense has been efficient this season, there is but one flaw: the Lobos can't hit their mid range jumpers. In the Lobos last five games, New Mexico has taken 58 percent of their shots outside the paint where they have hit only 32 percent! This is made even more confusing because New Mexico has hit 55 percent inside the paint and 37 percent outside the arc. Why the Lobos don't take the ball to the basket more often, or outside the arc, shows either poor shot selection or simply just not being able to get inside. The Lobos should find it a little easier to hit their mid-range jumpers against the Rams, as Colorado State has allowed team to hit 44 percent outside the paint in their last three games.
No Injuries to Report
Unlike the Lobos, the Rams like to go big with their rotation, their national 2nd best rebounding average shows for it. The Rams frontcourt is led by C-F Colton Iverson (13.7 PPG-9.6 RPG) and is followed by F Greg Smith (11.5 PPG-5.6 RPG) and F Pierce Hornung (9.8 PPG-9.4 RPG). This trio has been an inside threat in their last three games, taking 76 percent of their shots inside where they have hit 56 percent and have hit 50 percent from the field overall.
For some reason, despite the large rotation, the Rams have been slacking on defense. In the Rams last three games, Colorado State has allowed teams to take 55 percent of their shots outside the paint, where they hit 44 percent and 45 percent of their shots inside the paint, where they have hit 47 percent. Over the three game course Colorado State has allowed teams to shoot 45 percent overall. In this span CSU has been winning games by an average score of 71 to 69. The Lobos have shot 42 percent from the field and 55 percent inside the paint in their last five games, so clearly the CSU defense will be an area of concern for the Rams heading into this game
Both teams have shot the ball the same recently, CSU and New Mexico hitting 56 percent and 55 percent inside the paint respectively and have note hit well from mid-range (31 and 32 percent respectively). While most of this game will be decided on the glass, the three-pointers could be the difference as New Mexico has shot 37 percent in their last five games and CSU has allowed team to shoot 36 percent from three in their last three games. While the numbers would suggest that this game leans in the Lobos favor, I am taking the Rams over the Lobos for only one reason. Home court advantage. I have said this all season, the Lobos have not been the best while playing on the road, and even those who disagree with me and say they are the best road team in the MWC, there is no team good enough in the MWC who can win on the road at Moby Arena. Especially when the game, statically, is so close and there is so much on the line.