Nevada Wolf Pack vs. Colorado St. Rams Pick & Prediction MARCH 14th 2024

LAS VEGAS — Nevada rolls into the Mountain West tournament quarterfinals Thursday riding a seven-game winning streak and will face a Colorado State team that it defeated twice in the regular season.

Nevada (26-6) enters the Thomas & Mack Center — home of rival UNLV — ranked No. 23 in the nation and seeded second in the tournament. The Wolfpack are led by Jarod Lucas, whose 17.8 points per game were second in the Mountain West.

Lucas has scored in double figures in 29 of 32 games, and his highest scoring output of conference play came against Colorado State on Jan. 24, when Lucas scored 28 points on 10-of-14 shooting and made all three of his 3-pointers.

On Feb. 27, Lucas scored a team-high 23 points, including a 3-pointer from beyond half court that went off the glass and dropped in at the buzzer, to lead the Wolf Pack to a 77-74 road victory.

The Mountain West is loaded with 20-win teams, six in all, and Colorado State spent several weeks in the Top 25. But the Rams (23-9) came into the conference tournament as the No. 7 seed despite their record and could still earn an NCAA Tournament at-large bid if the don’t win the Mountain West tourney.

The Rams defeated 10th-seeded San Jose State 72-62 in the first round Wednesday, led by Joel Scott’s 18 points. Isaiah Stevens, a first-team all-conference selection, added 11 points and 10 assists.

Joe Palmer scored 14 points with four-3-pointers.

“We made some big shots. We got the stops when we needed to,” Rams head coach Niko Medved told the Colorado State athletics website after the win. “That’s what you have to do. You have to find a way. All these games come down to the last four minutes, and our guys found a way to get the job done.”

Medved has guided the Rams to four 20-win seasons out of the past five.

For Nevada, Kenan Blackshear joined Lucas on the all-conference second team. Blackshear averaged 15.1 points per game and added 4.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists per contest.

The Wolf Pack’s Nick Davidson had seven double-doubles this season on his way to a third team, all-conference selection.

In Nevada’s past seven games, all wins, the Wolf Pack are shooting 48.5 percent from the field — 43.5 percent from 3-point range — is hitting 9.6 3-pointers per contest. Nevada is also averaging 16.7 assists per game.

On defense, Nevada has limited its past seven opponents to 65.4 points per game on just 41.9 percent shooting from the field, including only 29.8 percent from 3-point range.

“I don’t want to downplay the first four months,” Nevada head coach Steve Alford said recently to the Nevada Appeal, referring to how the team played November through February. “Our guys have put in a lot of work. I think we’re set up for March. We’ve done a lot of good things. I like where we’re at.”

This will be the 28th meeting between the teams, with Nevada up 16-11 in the all-time series.

–Jose Romero, Field Level Media

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