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Poke Basketball Preview & Prediction: Nevada Wolf Pack

Cowboys travel to Lawlor Events Center in clash with the Wolf Pack

NCAA Basketball: Mountain West Conference Tournament- Wyoming vs Nevada Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

What: Wyoming Cowboys @ Nevada Wolf Pack

When: Monday, January 17th, 2022, 6:00 p.m. MT

Where: Lawlor Events Center, Reno, NV

Network: FS1

Line: Wyoming +2 (via William Hill SB)

Series: Wyoming leads the all-time series against Nevada 17-9. In their two conference meetings last season, the Cowboys claimed both, winning most recently on January 24th of last year by a score of 93-88. The Cowboys will look to continue that trend on Monday night.

The Pokes travel to Reno for what will be their second conference matchup of the season. Wyoming (12-2) will be playing their second game in as many days, coming off of an impressive and late-decided victory over the Utah State Aggies 71-69. The Nevada Wolf Pack (8-6), on the other hand, will be back home after their contest in Colorado Springs vs. Air Force where they were able to beat the Falcons 75-68.

What to expect from Nevada:

The Wolf Pack is led by third-year Head Coach Steve Alford. Alford, the former UCLA Head Coach, has led this talented Wolf Pack group to an 8-6 overall record to start the season, including a 2-1 conference record so far. The Wolf Pack, like the Cowboys, have had their fair share of COVID-19 postponements this season, but have worked through the adversity in starting their conference play pretty strongly. After a rough start to their season, the Pack has now won four of their last six and are playing much more consistently. They are led in scoring and assists by Junior Guard Grant Sherfield (19.5 pts/6.4 asts). Sherfield, a popular preseason pick for Mountain West Player of the Year, is the main scorer and playmaker for the Pack offense. Though they will rely heavily on Sherfield in key moments in this contest, he isn’t the only Wolf Pack player to be aware of in this contest. The Pack have plenty of players with potential for big games including Desmond Cambridge Jr., and the two big men Will Baker and Warren Washington. Look for them to try and cause havoc down on the block versus Ike, and Cambridge to be a consistent scoring contributor in this one. As a whole, Nevada shoots about 44% from the field and 33% from three, something their guards will try and do a lot of. They are a pesky defensive team, but tend to get a little bit sloppy on offense, turning the ball over just as many times as they force them.

What to expect from Wyoming:

Wyoming comes into this game fresh off of their victory versus Utah State. The Cowboys won the game thanks largely in part to a last second shot by Graham Ike with 3.3 seconds left on the clock. The Cowboys moved to 12-2 on the year and are quickly becoming a pleasant surprise out of the Mountain West. They have seemingly started right where they left off after a series of COVID-19 postponements delayed their debut in conference play, and will look to continue that against Nevada. Graham Ike and Hunter Maldonado have also not slowed down, both scoring over 20 points in their game against Utah State. Drake Jeffries also contributed heavily going 4-7 from three-point range. In order to beat Nevada, the Pokes will have to force mistakes, shoot efficiently from deep and limit the transition scoring from Nevada, who enjoys being able to get out and run.

Prediction:

The Cowboys have proven themselves a contender in the Mountain West up to this point and a win against Nevada could solidify that statement. Though Nevada does qualify as a team the Pokes should be able to beat given how the teams have played thus far, they are a talented squad that still can’t be taken lightly. If the Cowboys can close out on shooters, force turnovers, shoot efficiently themselves from deep, and out rebound the Pack on the glass, they should be able to narrowly escape Reno and head back home with an undefeated conference record.

Score:

Wyoming 85

Nevada 79