Even teams that are unable to win the regular season conference title still have a lot to play for as they try to set themselves up for a good seed in the postseason tournament. Two of these teams will meet tonight as Wyoming will head to Colorado State, and we’ll preview the game before going over which side I’ll be backing.
If asked to describe the Wyoming Cowboys season in one word, it would be hard not to respond with “disappointment.” Entering tonight, the Cowboys sit in 11th place in the Mountain West standings with a 3-12 conference record, and they are amid a two-game losing streak.
Most of the Cowboys' problems have stemmed from injuries and flat-out inconsistency on the defensive end. Wyoming currently ranks 210th in the country in defensive efficiency rating on KenPom, as opponents are averaging an effective field goal percentage of 53.5%. Opposing teams have found success all over the floor, leading to Wyoming being ranked 300th in three-point and two-point shooting percentages.
In their most recent loss, the Cowboys put together a solid defensive performance, but their offense let them down in that one, as they only managed to score 55 points on 31% shooting from the field. Wyoming likes to rely heavily on the three-ball, but they could only go 6 for 23 from behind the arc in the loss. The positive for them tonight is Colorado State ranks 302nd in opponent three-point percentage.
The Rams have had very similar strengths and weaknesses to the Cowboys this season, as they rank 206th in defensive efficiency and 56th in offensive efficiency, according to KenPom. With these numbers, the Rams sit one spot above Wyoming in the Mountain West standings with a 4-11 record, and they will enter tonight fresh off a 19-point loss to San Diego State.
Colorado State only had two players finish in double figures in that game against the Aztecs, but on the season, their ball movement has led to some impressive offensive numbers. The Rams rank 17th in assists per game, which has led to them being ranked 20th in effective field goal percentage.
Wyoming can currently be found as +7.5 point underdogs, and I’ll be taking them for my play in this one. I think the Rams are being overvalued tonight since they are 5-8 ATS at home this season, and both teams have gone 3-7 straight up in their last ten games. In the first meeting between these two teams, Wyoming walked away with a 58-57 win, despite being +1 point underdogs, and in that game, they held the Rams to just 12 total assists in the game.
The Cowboys match up well with the Rams on both ends of the floor, especially defensively, as the one area Wyoming has been solid in is limiting ball movement. The Cowboys are allowing an average of 12.3 assists per game, which proved to cause issues for the Rams since they average 16.3 assists a game. By limiting the Rams' ball movement, the Cowboys held leading scorer Isaiah Stevens to his lowest point total in the past ten games.
Offensively, the Cowboys, who rank 62nd in three-point attempts per game, have a better three-point shooting percentage when on the road this season. With Colorado State ranked 339th in three-pointers allowed per game, the Cowboys should be able to keep this game close from the tip.
Wyoming Cowboys (+7.5)