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Air Force-Colorado Preview: MW Connection and The Ralphie Report Conversation

The 3-1 Air Force Falcons travel to Boulder to take on the 2-1 Colorado Buffaloes this Tuesday Evening. Game time is set for 7:00 p.m. as the two teams meet for the fourth year in a row.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Air Force Falcons will be taking the trip to Boulder Tuesday afternoon to take on the Colorado Buffaloes of the Pac 12 Conference. The Falcons will be entering the game in the Coors Event Center with a 3-1 record, having won their last three games in fairly easy fashion. Air Force could be encountering an angry group of Buffaloes as Colorado is coming off a highly disappointing effort in Laramie where Wyoming defeated them 56-33, limiting the visiting Buffaloes to nine second half points.

To find out more about the Buffaloes and their prospects on the season, Mountain West Connection took a trip up the virtual highway to Boulder to have a discussion with Matt Sparkman of The Ralphie Report. There were three burning questions we wanted to know more about as the Falcons prepare to hook up with the Buffaloes this week:

MW CONNECTION - Lots of Air Force fans follow the CU tandem of Josh Scott and Wesley Gordon because of the Colorado Springs connection. How are they looking early in the season?

The Ralphie Report (Matt) You could make a pretty good argument that Scott and Gordon are CU's two best players. You know what you're going to get out of Scott on a nightly basis. If he isn't double-teamed, there's a high likelihood he'll end up with a double-double. Scott's already-solid mid-range game has continued to improve, and he's even shown the ability to knock down the open three this season. Tad Boyle spent a lot of time in the weeks leading up to the season trying to convince Gordon that he's one of the team's best players, and it's paid off. Gordon displayed a much-improved scorer's touch around the rim in a 16 point, 12 rebound performance against Auburn last Monday. However, Gordon and Scott still don't get nearly enough touches in the post. When things got tough during Saturday afternoon's 56-33 beatdown at Wyoming, Colorado chose to hoist jumpers instead of going inside. If the Buffs are going to live up to their potential this season, they'll need to rely on their big men from Colorado Springs more than they did against Wyoming.

MW CONNECTION - There were a lot of doubters of CU after their poor performance against Pittsburgh in the NCAA Tournament? What have you seen from the Buffaloes that they have improved on from that loss?

The Ralphie Report (Matt) Boyle revamped his offense during the offseason, talking with former Denver Nuggets head coach George Karl about transition offense, and former Boston College head coach Steve Donahue about half-court offense. In Colorado's first two games against Drexel and Auburn, the half-court offense against man-to-man defense looked to be much improved. That being said, the half-court offense has a long way to go against zones. CU still doesn't really know how to get the ball in the middle of the zone and attack. Another area of improvement is CU's depth, particularly in the interior. Boyle can legitimately utilize a four-man rotation in the post with the addition of freshman forward Tory Miller.

MW CONNECTION - What would you say are the biggest strengths and weaknesses for the Buffaloes this season and who has been the biggest surprise early in the season?

The Ralphie Report (Matt) - Certainly one of Colorado's strengths is their frontcourt. Scott is one of the best big men in the country, Gordon is becoming more potent offensively, and Xavier Johnson is a pretty consistent 10-12 point scorer from the ‘3' position. Depth is another strong suit, Boyle has been using an 11-man rotation, with nobody playing much more than around 32 minutes.

Many of last year's weaknesses still plague this season's team. CU still isn't great at entering the ball into the post, making life harder for Scott and Gordon. The Buffs struggled against zones last season, and if Saturday's debacle at Wyoming is any indication, Colorado hasn't figured zones out yet. Lastly, if CU wants to be a team that can play into the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament, they'll need to get mentally tougher. Whenever Wyoming would hit a big shot Saturday afternoon, CU would respond by jacking up a contested mid-to-long-range jumper early in the shot clock. Better decision making in the face of adversity will be critical come February and March.

So far, the biggest surprise for me has been Gordon. His touch around the rim is so much better than it was this year. He could average close to a double-double this season.

We appreciate all the help from Matt and encourage you to get all your Colorado Buffaloes news from The Ralphie Report.