TCU defeated Wyoming Wednesday afternoon in the opening round game and now get to take on top-seeded BYU in the first game of the day. The big game Thursday is when the Colorado St. Rams take on the New Mexico Lobos; both teams are fighting for an NCAA tournament berth and the loser of that game is eliminated from tournament play.
No. 1 BYU vs. No. 9 TCU, 1 p.m. TV: The Mtn. HD
This will be BYU's third game without star forward Brandon Davies, but they should have little trouble against TCU. In the two meetings this year BYU had no issues against TCU winning both games by scores of 83-67 and 79-56. BYU will want to get a big lead so that they do not have to rely on Jimmer Fredette scoring 30-plus points to get the win. The only way TCU can upset BYU is if the whole BYU team goes on a shooting slump at the same time.
No. 4 Colorado State vs. No. 5 New Mexico, 3:30 p.m. TV: The Mtn. HD/CBS College Sports HD
These two teams will be motivated to move on because they both know if they lose they are heading to the NIT. They split the season series this year, but the main difference is where each team is heading. The Lobos have picked up their game and have won three in a row after suffering a four-game losing streak. The Rams have lost four of their last five games and that included a loss to Utah.
If the teams prior two matchups are any indication then this game will be a defensive struggle since the prior games were both in the 60's. Coaching should be the key difference in this game and that would go to New Mexico's Steve Alford who has NCAA tournament experience at both New Mexico and Iowa, while Colorado State's Tim Miles has only one year ever of division one post season experience.
No. 2 San Diego State vs. No. 7 Utah, 7 p.m. TV: The Mtn. HD
The Aztecs are on a mission to try to gain a number two overall seed in the NCAA tournament, so they will want to get a bid lead and rest their starters since they most likely will be taking on UNLV in round two. This also could be the last game for Utah's Jim Boylen, so perhaps the Utes will show up with a good effort. The talent disparity between the two teams is so great that it is hard to see the Aztecs lose to Utah. Utah can win only if Will Clyburn and Josh Watkins both go over 30 points each, but even then that may not be enough.
No. 3 UNLV vs. No. 6 Air Force, 9:30 p.m. TV: The Mtn. HD/CBS College Sports HD
Air Force has the ability to frustrate teams with their über slow offensive pace, and earlier in the season Air Force almost upset UNLV in an unwatchable 49-42 game. UNLV would have to play one of their worst games of the year to lose to Air Force. UNLV is essentially a tournament lock they would be much safer by defeating Air Force. Look for UNLV to force a face pace game against Air Force to take them out of their comfort zone and cruise to an easy victory.