T-C-U (17-13) vs. Colorado State (19-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 8, 5:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Thomas & Mack Center (18,500) -- Las Vegas, Nevada. Television: The Mountain, CBSSN. Home Record: TCU 13-3, CSU 14-1. Away Record: TCU 3-8, CSU 3-9. Neutral Record: TCU 1-2, CSU 2-0. Conference Record: TCU 8-6, CSU 8-6. Series Record: TCU leads, 11-10.
GAME NOTES: Losers of two straight to close out the regular season, the Colorado State Rams try to work their way back into the win column this afternoon as they take on the TCU Horned Frogs in the 13th annual Mountain West Conference Tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
TCU, the fifth seed in this year's event, is one of the more recent additions to the league which is why the Frogs have a record of just 2-6 in the tourney. Prior to the final week of the regular season, the Horned Frogs had won four of five outings and given opponents in the MWC plenty of reason to believe they could cause some issues in the league tournament. The squad lost back-to- back games in the final week, but on a positive note, the last setback was in overtime against nationally-ranked San Diego State (98-92).
As for the fourth-seeded Rams, winners of the tournament back in 2003, they haven't been back to the title game since taking down UNLV in a 62-61 final almost a decade ago. While TCU was hitting a couple of sour notes in the final days, CSU dialed up four wins in five tries in order to finish 8-6 in conference play and a perfect 7-0 in league action at home.
The Horned Frogs lead the all-time series with Colorado State by a slim 11-10 margin after splitting the two regular-season meetings in 2011-12. On Feb. 11, the Frogs snapped a three-game slide in the series by putting up a 75-71 win at home.
The winner of this bout will be back in action on Friday in the semifinals against the survivor of the Boise State/San Diego State matchup for the right to advance to the title game on Saturday.
An All-MWC First Team selection this season, Hank Thorns led the Horned Frogs in scoring with his 13.4 ppg, and while he was able to make good on 39.8 percent behind the three-point line, he was just 37.6 percent accurate from the floor overall. More than just a scorer, Thorns also continued to direct traffic on the floor and dish out a team-best 138 assists. J.R. Cadot, who along with Thorns was the only player to start all 30 games for the program, responded with 11.3 ppg as he connected on an impressive 51.4 percent from the floor. Remaining close to the rim more often than not, Cadot was also tops on the team in rebounding with seven per game. Scoring 71.9 ppg on the season, the Horned Frogs were one of the weaker defenses in the league as they allowed opponents to convert 47.2 percent from the field and 37.6 percent behind the three-point line.
As stated previously, the Rams were perfect at home against conference opponents this season, but outside of Fort Collins the team won just one time in seven chances and that didn't come until the last game of the season against Air Force on Saturday, 75-65. Over the course of those 14 MWC dates, Wes Eikmeier emerged as the top scorer with 14.6 ppg, although his mere 37.6 percent shooting from the floor was certainly something that was a concern. Dorian Green, the only other player to have started every conference contest, was responsible for another 13.3 ppg as he combined with Eikmeier to make good on 41 three-pointers which accounted for more than half the team's conversions on the perimeter. Pierce Hornung (9.3 ppg), a 58.2 percent shooter from the floor, not only led the team in rebounding with nine per game, he was also first with 25 steals against conference opponents.
This might be the one game in the quarterfinal round that could go either way. As long as Thorns doesn't get caught up with trying to take over the scoring for the Horned Frogs and instead focuses on putting his teammates in good scoring situations, TCU could pull this one out.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: TCU 68, Colorado State 65
03/08 10:31:18 ET