2006 Air Force Basketball Team
Air Force Academy Falcons
AIR FORCE SOARES DESPITE TOURNAMENT LOSS
The Air Force lost to Wyoming in the Mountain West Conference (MWC) Tournament quarterfinals 57-55. Although the Falcons shared the second best MWC record with Brigham Young (12-4) and were 24-6 overall, losing that game had many writers surmising that the team, which had been on the bubble as far as the NCAA Tournament was concerned, would be in the NIT instead.
But the Air Force’s bubble did not burst, instead it rose to the top and the Falcons received a playoff bid, their second in three years, much to the dismay of many writers and commentators. After the MWC tournament, the team had dropped in the NCAA’s RPI rankings 11 notches, from 39 to 50. Two other things were against them—they had not beaten a top-50 team all season and they had played a weak schedule.
As the thirteenth seed in the Washington, D.C. Region, they’re scheduled to meet tough, fourth seed Illinois (#13 nationally) on March 16, 2006, at 7:25 pm. In that game, expect Air Force to slow the pace down, playing a patient, passing game in order to find the open man and the best shot. If they have to, they’ll use every second of the 35-second clock. On defense, the Falcons will trap, press, and try to steal the ball. Illinois is a tough, talented team and in order for the Air Force to win, they’ll have to control the tempo, clock, and entire floor.
Illinois is bigger inside than the Air Force and will work to control the boards. By the second-half, the Air Force may be fading and if their defense consistently gives up rebounds, Illinois will take control of the game.
This is one of those tournament contests that will put the Selection Committee process under the microscope. The Falcons don’t have to win to help justify the committee’s decision to include them, but they do have to give the Illini a darn good, full-court, 40-minute fight.
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