NCAA Basketball: Colorado State/Nevada Preview, Odds and Prediction - 03/05/2021

by Big Al Staff

Two Mountain West Conference teams jockey for positioning for the conference tournament at 9 PM ET on the CBS Sports Network.

Colorado State won their fifth straight game with an 87-73 victory against New Mexico as a 19-point favorite on Wednesday. Adam Thistlewood scored a career-high 27 points in the victory, with the junior fourth on the team with a 10.3 points-per-game scoring average. Isaiah Stevens added nine points with ten assists. The sophomore is scoring 14.8 points-per-game and averaging 5.9 assists-per-game. Junior Kendle Moore added 17 points to his 10.7 points-per-game average. David Roddy contributed 12 points, 14 rebounds, and nine assists. The sophomore is averaging 16.1 points-per-game and 9.6 rebounds-per-game.

The Rams returned four of their top five scores and seven players in the rotation from the group that finished 20-12 last season for head coach Niko Medved. This year’s team is 17-4 while being tied for first place in the Mountain West Conference with a 14-3 record. Colorado State is on the NCAA tournament bubble, with most mocks projecting them as an eleven seed. They are ranked 60th in the kenpom rating with high-profile wins against San Diego State and Utah State. Their four losses are against the Aztecs and Aggies along with Boise State and a setback to Saint Mary’s in non-conference play.

Colorado State is one of the best shooting teams in the nation. The Rams made 57.7% of their shots inside the arc, sixth-best nationally. They also make 37.1% of their 3-pointers, ranking 37th nationally. The Rams hit 78.3% of their free throws, 16th nationally. Their effective field goal percentage of 56.8% is seventh-best in the nation. Colorado State ranks 85th in adjusted offensive efficiency at kenpom and 46th in adjusted defensive efficiency using the kenpom metrics. They are 14th nationally by holding their opponents to a 28.8% shooting percentage from 3-point range.

Nevada had been on a four-game winning streak before losing both their games at Utah State last week. The Wolf Pack last played on Sunday in an 87-66 loss to the Aggies as a 9.5-point underdog. Desmond Cambridge, Jr. led the team with 13 points, with the junior scoring 15.5 points-per-game. Sophomore Grant Sherfield averages a team-high 18.0 points-per-game.

Steve Alford oversaw a Nevada team that finished 19-12 last season, including a surprising 12-6 in Mountain West Conference play, which was good for second place. Yet five of the top six scorers from that team departed, leaving Alford to rebuild this team nearly from scratch from bench players, freshmen, and transfer players. Sherfield is a transfer from Wichita State that was granted eligibility in the fall from the NCAA’s blanket transfer exception policy this year due to COVID. Cambridge is a transfer from Brown.

The Wolf Pack are 14-9 with a 9-7 mark in conference play to put them in fifth place. They rank 98th nationally by the kenpom ratings. They are fifth in adjusted offensive efficiency while having the top free throw rate in the conference. Nevada is fifth in adjusted defensive efficiency in the MWC while ranking fourth with an opponent’s effective field goal percentage of 48.5%. They have a bad loss to Air Force on their resume while playing two close games against San Diego State in 2-point and 5-point losses. Their best wins were a two-game sweep at home against Boise State in early February before they went on a three-week COVID hiatus. They returned to play in their two losses in Logan against Utah State last week.

This contest is the first meeting between these two teams this season. BookMaker lists this game as a pick ‘em with the total set at 144.5.

Computer prediction:  Nevada 73 Colorado State 70

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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