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Men’s basketball embarks on final push after 3-week break

Photo illustration show an image of both male and female basketball players with the text "In the Paint, Collegian Basketball Coverage"
(Graphic Illustration by Colin Crawford | The Collegian)

The Colorado State men’s basketball team will be back in action this Saturday against the United States Air Force Academy after a 21-day break due to COVID-19 precautions.

Skills will return throughout the series, but one thing this Rams squad cannot overlook is making sure they are mentally prepared for their final push of the season.”

CSU was subject to game postponements and cancelations after their conference series against the University of Nevada, Reno and the University of New Mexico were postponed and their game against the University of Northern Colorado was canceled.

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After sweeping the University of Wyoming in this year’s Border War, the Rams were ready to keep the momentum going against the Lobos. However, just 30 minutes before tip-off, the game was postponed due to COVID-19 issues within the Lobos organization.

Around the same time, the Wolf Pack’s series against San José State University was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns within UNR’s program. These issues were not resolved in time and resulted in CSU’s series against the Wolf Pack being called off for the time being.

However, the Mountain West Conference recently released an updated schedule for men’s conference play. The Rams will play the Lobos in Fort Collins, Colorado, on March 3 before traveling to Reno, Nevada to play the Wolf Pack on March 5.

While the Rams will not be getting the traditional two-game series we have come to expect during this season, these games could prove important in determining if CSU will get a bid to the NCAA March Madness tournament.

 

The Rams currently sit at 14-4 overall and 11-3 in conference play. Despite having no fans in attendance, CSU has relished the home-court advantage this year with only one loss at Moby Arena on the season.

The lingering question for the Rams is how they will fare busting back into competition after their three-week break. Such a long time is sure to be a mixed bag for CSU. Having ample time to rest and navigate late-season fatigue is a huge benefit, but with extended time off comes the risk of losing any momentum you had and acquiring some competitive rust.

Luckily for the Rams, the Falcons have not been gaining any momentum as of recently. With just one win from their past 11 games, Air Force is firmly at the bottom of the table. With a measly 3-15 conference record, this season has been a disaster for the Falcons, which will put them in a dangerous headspace for the final series of the year.

Air Force is scoring an average of 60.1 points per game — the worst in the Mountain West. In contrast, CSU is third best in the league, putting up an average of 75.2 points per game. On paper, the Rams could not ask for a better matchup to get them back into the swing of competition.

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But anytime a team is playing with nothing to lose, which will surely be Air Force this weekend, strange things can happen. Skills will return throughout the series, but one thing this Rams squad cannot overlook is making sure they are mentally prepared for their final push of the season. 

Tyler Meguire can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @TMeguire.

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