Maybe the Southern Utah Thunderbirds are just a better team than I’ve given them credit for. They were victorious and covered last night over Portland State to bring us down to 3-1 for the week. Fortunately, today is another day and we’ve got more opportunities to try and pick a winner from the card.
For that, we take a look at the Mountain West Conference game between Colorado State and Nevada. Nevada was a spotlight game last weekend and the Wolf Pack went down against Utah State, as we laid the big price and got a victory. In this one, Colorado State is -1 with a total of 144.5 from Bookmaker Sportsbook.
Colorado State Rams
This is a big game for the Rams. Niko Medved’s team seems to be pretty solidly on the right side of the bubble, but can ill-afford slip-ups down the stretch. Colorado State has an impressive 17-4 record with a 14-3 conference mark to this point. By splitting with San Diego State, Utah State, and Boise State, the Rams have seeming done enough to put themselves in the Field of 68. That means, though, that they should probably win this game and at least a game or two in next week’s conference tournament.
Colorado State has handled inferior teams this season. The four losses are all to teams ranked higher than them per any of the college basketball sites you frequent. Nevada sort of falls in between. The Wolf Pack are a solid enough team to be dangerous. They aren’t in the class of Santa Clara or Fresno State, teams that Colorado State beat early in the year. The reality is that this is a legitimate toss-up game for the Rams.
Colorado State has a pretty impressive set of stats. The Rams are seventh nationally in eFG% offense, as they rank sixth in 2P% and 37th in 3P%. They’re also one of the nation’s stronger free throw shooting teams at 78.3%. Opponents have only made 62.5% of their one-point shots, so Colorado State’s 15.8% disparity there has certainly been helpful in several games.
Colorado State has held Mountain West conference opponents to just 30.5% on three-pointers. The Rams have the conference’s top offense and one of the top defenses. The lone glaring issue for the Rams is a 21.5% TO% on offense, but they make a lot of shots and play good defense for the most part to keep the opposition at bay.
For whatever reason, though, opponents are only shooting 25.7% on threes in Fort Collins. In road games for the Rams during MWC play, opponents are shooting 35.7% from three. That could make a huge difference here.
Nevada Wolf Pack
This is a big spot for Nevada. The Wolf Pack lost by three to Utah State in the first game last Friday, but trailed by double digits for a long time in that game before making it close late. They lost the next game by 21 against a Utah State team that only made four three-pointers. Nevada got mauled on the glass in both games. There were also coming off of a COVID pause. At least they’ve been able to get some good practice in this week.
This is a young Nevada team. Senior Day is usually a pretty emotional thing, though the COVID protocols have watered down the celebration. Nevada doesn’t have a single senior on the roster, so that won’t be a concern here. This is an extremely young team that only has two juniors on the roster.
As a result, they’ve been inconsistent. They played two close games with San Diego State and the one close game with Utah State, but also lost twice to Wyoming and have a loss to Air Force on the resume. In 16 league games, Nevada has gotten to the line a lot and made a lot of those free throws. The Wolf Pack have also put the opposition on the line a lot.
The Wolf Pack are neither good nor bad across the board otherwise. It is worth noting that they are just 2-5 in games decided by six or fewer points and this one looks to fall in that range.
Pick & Analysis
Colorado State plays at a pretty average pace. Nevada plays a little quicker. The Rams seem content to play at the pace of their opponents for the most part, so this one could play a little faster. Both teams shoot free throws well. Colorado State won’t have the offensive rebounding success of Utah State, but the Rams are an efficient offense shooting the basketball and Nevada’s defense is fine, but not anything special.
I’m looking at the over here. It can be scary playing overs in these regular season finales that ultimately don’t matter a ton, but Colorado State needs the win and Nevada would certainly like one before going to Las Vegas for the MWC Tournament. The 144.5 total seems a little bit on the high side, but free throws should be a thing in this game for two teams that do very well with them.