Air Force is in their first NCAA water polo tournament since 1994, and have a stiff challenge in their first game which is against USC.
The Air Force Falcons were a surprise team to make to the NCAA tournament, they were the third seed in the WWPA conference tournament, but were able to defeat LMU and then UC San Diego to earn their first Final Four trip since 1994. However, they are going up against powerhouse USC Trojans.
USC is 15-0 all-time against Air Force, and the two teams have not played since 2009, in that game the Trojans won 16-5.
USC has been the No. 1 team in the rankings all season, 27-0 and looking to win an unprecedented fifth straight NCAA title game. They will be the overwhelming favorite and they are led by Kostas Genidounias and Nikola Vavic, the duo has combined for 36 percent of USC's scoring to date. Those two were named to the All-MPSF first-team, along side two other teammates.
While USC can put up points, it is their defense that makes them an elite team. They allow just 5.66 goals per game and have only one game all year where they allowed double-digit goals.
Air Force will need to have big games from Cruz Smithson and Josh Steadman if they want to have a chance to even compete with USC. Goalie Mike Fish is an excellent keeper for the Falcons, but he will be facing the toughest offense all year. He will be counted on to make some big saves to keep Air Force in this game.
Ball control is key since USC can take advantage of bad passes and go out on an easy counter attack goal. The Falcons will need to slow the game down and use the shot clock. Doing that will limit USC possessions, and that is a way for Air Force to hang around in this game.
This game begins at 2 p.m. MT and will be streamed online at NCAA.com.