Win at CSU would give Falcons security

By DAN WOLKEN THE GAZETTE Updated: February 28, 2006 at 12:00 am • Published: February 28, 2006
Though Air Force probably won’t win a share of the Mountain West Conference men’s basketball title, the Falcons will have plenty to play for when they close the regular season Saturday at Colorado State. With little chance to catch San Diego State, the focus for Air Force shifts toward se- curing the No. 2 seed for the league tournament and polishing its NCAA Tournament resume. After beating UNLV 68-55 Saturday for its fifth straight victory, Air Force improved to 23-5 and 11-4 in the league, one game behind the Aztecs. Air Force also moved to No. 39 in the Ratings Percentage Index. With a win at Colorado State and a first-round win in the MWC Tournament, Air Force probably can snag one of 34 at-large NCAA bids. “We’ll let the critics take care of that,” senior guard Antoine Hood said about his team’s NCAA chances. “Right now we’re 23-5. A lot of teams don’t have that record. We have a chance to be 24-5. . . . I don’t want to use the cliché about no respect for Air Force, but we have to do what we have to do.” Air Force controls the second seed in the league tournament, the winner of which is an automatic NCAA qualifier. A win at Colorado State would lock up the No. 2 spot, but a loss would allow Brigham Young to grab it. The Cougars are 10-4 in the league, and if both teams finish 12-4, Air Force would win the tiebreaker because of its 2-0 record against fourth-place UNLV. BYU finishes the season this week with home games against Colorado State and New Mexico. San Diego State can clinch the conference title Wednesday at home vs. Wyoming. But if the Aztecs stumble, Air Force and BYU would have a chance to be co-champions. To get the No. 1 seed in the league tournament, Air Force would need San Diego State to lose to Wyoming, Utah to win its final two games and New Mexico to lose its final two. If the standings stay the same, Air Force would play Wyoming in the first round of the tournament in a 7 p.m. game March 9 at Pepsi Center. “None of us have won a conference tournament game,” junior forward Jacob Burtschi said. “We wanted (the season title), we didn’t get it, but now we have a chance to go get the conference tournament title. We’ve got the confidence and the personnel to go out there and do it.” CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0258 or NEXT Air Force (23-5, 11-4 MWC) at Colorado State (15-12, 4-12), 1 p.m Saturday, 740/560 AM
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