Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports
WHO IS AFRAID OF THE BIG BAD WOLF?
Wyoming will need to make it three wins in a row over Nevada if they want to advance in Mountain West Conference tournament. The Wolf Pack seems to have some of their poorer perfomances when facing the Pokes and I'm just fine with that trend continuing.
Wyoming sits at 18-12 on the year while Nevada is the opposite with a 12-18 record. Wyoming has four conference victories while Nevada only had three. This is the one tournament game that is not televised but you can still watch it online. The Mountain West will be streaming this game as well as the early rounds of the women's tournament on their website. The winner will take on #1 seed New Mexico on Wednesday.
The Cowboys are currently 2.5 point favorites in this game, that seems like a smart choice by Vegas. With a rough last three weeks Wyoming is expected to finally have everyone healthy and available to play. Injury and illness have taken their toll on the Cowboys who are low on depth to start. Leonard Washington missed time due to a sore ankle and then a back injury. Derrious Gilmore had the flu and then a knee issue that effected him in the regular season finale against Colorado State. Larry Nance Jr. was very ill with some type of bug and then had a bad reaction to some antibiotics that made him feel even worse. He lost over 10 pounds on his already thin frame.
During that time Wyoming was able to give their bench some more playing time. That experience could pay off this year and will certainly pay dividends in the future. Nathan Sobey has shown that he can light it up from downtown as he scored 22 against Air Force when he didn't miss a single shot. Derek Cooke Jr. was certainly a raw talent when he arrived in Laramie. He was known mainly for his physical skills and rebounding but has grown much more comfortable around the basket. He isn't afraid to try and attack the rim when he is down low. If the Pokes are able to get some contributions from their bench they can make a run and improve their resume.
The biggest weapon that Nevada has is their size advantage at guard. Leading scorer Malik Story is 6-5 but has been limited to just 17 points in the first two games against Wyoming. Jerry Evans Jr. isn't a huge scoring threat but at 6-8 he presents a huge mismatch in Nevada's favor. Evans is also the leading rebounder for Nevada. PG Deonte Burton is 6-1 but has had the most success against Wyoming this year. He's scored 23 and 13 points in the first two meetings. He is coming off a 27 point performance in the loss against Colorado State last Saturday.
If the Cowboys are at full health and can play their tempo then I expect them to advance. Otherwise it will be a quick exit in the tournament and another low blow in a season that has has gone downhill since January.