The first installment of the border war takes place in Fort Collins, CO in front of a raucous Moby Arena crowd. The visiting Wyoming Cowboys started the season hot, with a 13-0 record, but has since struggled in the MWC, going 2-5 with 3 straight losses. Colorado State on the other hand is one of the hottest teams in the MWC, ranked 21 in RPI and 18 in kenpom rankings. The suspension of G Luke Martinez (14.5 PPG-3 RPG) has severely hampered the Pokes offensive output, boasting the MWC 2nd worst PPG at 63.1. The Rams look to limit the Pokes offense with their impressive rebounding with 42.3 per game, good for 3rd in the nation. While this rivalry game usually presents an intense and competitive atmosphere, I believe the Rams have the upside in this game, and for oblivious reasons.
When: Saturday, February 2, 7:00 PM ET
Where: Moby Arena, Fort Collins, CO
Watch: ROOT Network
G Luke Martinez (suspension)
While the offense of the Cowboys has been inconsistent as of late, the defense continues to keep games interesting for the pokes. The Cowboys are limiting teams to just 31.6% accuracy from three point range and only 44.2% from two point range. No team that has faced the Cowboys has scored more than 69 points this season and MWC teams are averaging only 55.3 PPG against the pokes.
Unlike the defense, the offense has been very unimpressive in conference play. F Leonard Washington (14.4 PPG-8.9 RPG) is now the 2nd highest scorer on the Cowboys roster, suspended G Luke Martinez having the highest PPG on Wyoming's roster. The Cowboys has scored over 60 points only once in conference play and has averaged only 53 PPG in their last 7 games. The Pokes handle most of their offense from two point range, distributing 54.1% of their offense inside the arc where the hit with 47.8% accuracy.
No injuries to report.
The Rams frontcourt has been the bulk CSU's offense this season. The Rams frontcourt is led by the MWC's best C-F in Colton Iverson (14.0 PPG-9.4 RPG), F Greg Smith (11.2 PPG-5.5 RPG), and F Pierce Hornung (10 PPG-9.7 RPG). The starting frontcourt does more than just score, they provide opportunities like provide 58% of the rams 42 RPG or even 4.7 APG.
Weakness: Outside Shooting
The Rams are not, by any standards, an outside shooting team. The rams hit about 34% from three point range and distribute only 22.4% of their offense outside the arc. Pierce Hornung commands the Rams best three point percentage at 57%.
Trending Up: CSU Backcourt
Tandem guards Dorian Green (12.6 PPG-3.8 APG) and Wes Eikmeier (11.9 PPG-2.3 APG) have really heated up in conference play this year. In their last 5 games, Eikmeier and Green have combined for an average of 25.4 PPG and 7 APG. Look for these two guards to have a big impact on the offensive side for the Rams in the border war.
Trending Down: F Larry Nance Jr.
F Larry Nance Jr. (10.6 PPG-7.3 RPG) has not been contributing to the recently struggling offense as of late. In Nance Jr's last two games he has averaged only 7.5 PPG, 1.5 APG and 2.5 FPG. If Nance Jr. gets into foul trouble early, it could be a long day for the Cowboys as only F Leonard Washington (14.4 PPG-8.9 RPG) and G Derrious Gilmore (11.3 PPG-2.6 APG) are the only serious scoring threats on this offense-bereft Cowboys team.
For those who like nitty-gritty "smash mouth" basketball, this game is for you. Both teams channel their respective offenses almost the same, attacking the basket and scoring inside the paint, while seldom hitting the three point basket. The Rams potent offense against the Cowboys staunch defense should provide us with a low scoring affair that is sure to live up to the intensity as this rivalry game usually does as both teams are vying for a NCAA Tournament bid. Wyoming's recent struggles on the road and dwindling offense combined with a rivalry game crowd in Fort Collins leads me to believe that the "bronze boot" for basketball will be staying in Fort Collins for the 2nd time in a row.