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Men’s Basketball Notebook: Setting the scene before 2022’s first Army-Navy game

The teams will face off on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. EST in Annapolis.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: NOV 15 Navy at Louisville Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s the week that all Army and Navy basketball fans have been waiting for: America’s Game on the hardwood.

Two of the top teams in the Patriot League will face off after stellar starts in league play. But before that contest, each side had some other business to take care of.

Both teams played home games on Wednesday. Navy fell 69-61 to Lehigh, while Army topped American, 76-66.

Out west, Air Force has played two games since our last update. The Falcons fell in both contests: 75-68 to Nevada on Saturday, and 62-56 to Boise State on Tuesday.

It should be another action-packed week for the Service Academies.


Upcoming

Thursday

UNLV vs Air Force - 7 p.m. (Mountain West Network)

Saturday

Army vs. Navy - 1:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

Colorado State vs. Air Force - 2 p.m. (Fox Sports 1)

Notes

Army – Navy

The two rivals will face off for the 136th time on the hardwood, Saturday in Annapolis. Last season, they split the season series as both games were played at Alumni Hall.

For Navy, they seem to be back in full health as coronavirus ravaged the team after Christmas break. Army has been healthy but just dropped a tough result against one of the worst teams in the league, Lafayette.

Army’s Jalen Rucker torched the Midshipmen last season, scoring 29 points in the two matchups. This season, he has had an excellent start, averaging 15.3 points per game, scoring double digits of five of the first six Patriot League matchups.

Navy had its usual balanced attack last season but suffered its only conference loss to the Black Knights.

This season, John Carter has had a stellar start, being named to the Lou Henson (mid-major) Player of the Year watchlist. Carter is averaging 13.8 points per game and has started every game for the Midshipmen this season. Along with that, Navy is back in first place with a 5-1 start to Patriot League play. Army is only one game behind at 4-2, dropping two of three last week including, as mentioned earlier, one to bottom-dweller Lafayette.

What is expected to be a healthy Navy team will play its warmup at home against Lehigh, and Army will do the same against American an hour earlier.

Saturday’s game will follow the women’s basketball tilt between the two that tips off at 11 a.m. on CBS Sports Network.

Air Force

Coronavirus has ravaged not only the Air Force program but the whole Mountain West, resulting in only one game being played for the Falcons in a ten-day period. Not the best for a team that seemed to be playing its best ball of the year.

On Saturday, the Falcons played its first game in a week as they lost a close one to Nevada, 75-68. There was a lot of good news for Air Force. Players such as Lucas Moerman, AJ Walker, and Joseph Octave all returned from COVID. Along with that, Freshman Ethan Taylor completed the first triple-double in Falcon history after falling just short against Army in December. He also picked up his fourth Freshman of the Week honor.

The bad news on the Air Force side was they dropped their second matchup in a row, falling behind early. Every time the Falcons had an answer, Nevada would answer.

This week, Air Force will play three tough games including two nationally televised matchups.

On Tuesday, the Falcons will face off against a Boise State team that has won nine-straight games. Running one of the toughest defenses in the country, the Broncos have a three-headed monster down low that is ranked sixth in the country in offensive rebounding percentage.

Thursday, the Falcons will play a makeup game against UNLV. Bryce Hamilton pretty much runs their offense, taking the 3rd highest percentage of shots for a team in the country. Along with that, they don’t turn over the ball all that much on offense.

Lastly, on Saturday Air Force will try and get their revenge against Colorado State after leading them for a good portion of the first half earlier this month. Air Force only lost by eight and was without its star, AJ Walker.

The Falcons have a lot of chances to turn some heads this week. At full strength, they could move back up towards the top of the Mountain West.