The number 23 holds a special place in the hearts of basketball fans.
That’s because arguably the greatest basketball player of all-time – Michael Jordan – wore the number at North Carolina and in the NBA during his illustrious career.
Today, two 23s go against one another as Colorado State puts their 23-game winning streak on the line against No. 23 UNLV.
Colorado State (14-3, 1-1 MWC) cruised through their non-conference schedule, winning a school record 13 games, though their most difficult opponents – Colorado, UIC and SDSU – all brought losses. Of course, all those games were on the road, but the Rams are still searching for a signature win.
Tonight could bring at least a first victory over a ranked opponent, though, it won’t be easy.
The Rebels sport a ton of talented players, including freshman Anthony Bennett, junior Mike Moser and senior Anthony Marshall.
The 6’8” forward Bennett leads the team in both scoring (19.0 PPG) and rebounding (8.9 per), while Moser nearly averages a double-double of his own (9.5, 7.2). Marshall is the rock, the consistent presence that plays the most minutes (32.3), brings the ball up court and facilitates his teammates.
In all, six UNLV (15-3, 2-1 MWC) players average at least nine points while their 42.6 RPG are right behind the Rams (43.0). Still, CSU’s rebounding margin (+14.5) is the best in the nation, and if they can come close to that mark tonight, it will certainly bode well for them.
Center Colton Iverson and Pierce Hornung will be instrumental in the Rams’ rebounding and scoring as well, combining for a total of 24.5 points and 19.2 boards per. They’ll likely matchup with Moser and Bennett, and whichever frontcourt can control the paint should win the contest.
The guards will come into play as well, and for CSU, Wes Eikmeier has been on fire. Over his last three games he’s averaged 20 points while going 9-17 (52.9 percent) from downtown.
And a good sign for Colorado State is that as the season has gotten tougher, with the Rams moving into conference play, the team has gotten tougher, too.
They’ll need to bring that toughness, grit and physicality tonight against one of the top teams in the country and it looks as though Moby Arena will be near a sell-out.
It’s a whiteout in support of cancer research – fans are encouraged to wear their white – and the Moby Maniacs know how big a game it is, buying up all but a few tickets as of Friday night.
The game tips off at 5 p.m. MT at Moby Arena in Fort Collins, Colorado and for those of you not lucky enough to attend; it will be nationally broadcasted on NBC Sports Network.