As I try to do on Sundays, a look at the best games of the week ahead involving Big Sky teams.
@ Oregon, 77, Portland State 71
The Vikings have plenty of offensive firepower, especially with F Renaldo Parker eligible, but they can't stop people this year. Don't look now, but big man Nate Lozeau is making a case to be all-Big Sky. He is one of the most efficient big men offensively in the conference, and one of the best rebounders.
Denver 75, @ Northern Colorado 66
The Bears have the talent to keep this competitive, but not sure they have the horses to win it, even at home. Denver is a really solid team this year, and almost beat Iona at home this past week (Iona is a team you will be hearing about). UNC has been very good offensively, but they have struggled to stop people, and that will be their problem in this game.
Eastern Washington 75, @ UCLA 69
If EWU can play solidly against UCLA's big men (which are not as good after the dismissal of Reeves Nelson) they will have a great chance in this game. Cliff Colimon will be the best PG on the court, and Collin Chiverton will be the best athlete. This sounds strange to say, but if EWU wins I'm not even sure it would be considered an upset.
This is a tough game for the Wildcats after the injuries they have suffered in the last couple of weeks. The Bears are potent offensively, and that will be a test for the short-handed Wildcats. Damian Lillard will need to have another huge game, but even more importantly, they need Scott Bamforth to get going again. He has disappeared of late. They have the talent to make it a game, but it will be a tough one for them to win.
Montana 67, @ Portland 64
Montana has been losing close games often this year, mostly because they cannot get into a consistent offensive flow. Derek Selvig has struggled since returning from injury, and Will Cherry has not shown the ability yet to be The Guy on offense. Kareem Jamar is turning into a star, but he is not getting a lot of help offensively. The sooner Keron DeShields becomes a guy that gets major minutes for the Griz, the better. He is their best option off the bench at this point. If the Griz lose this game they will fall to under .500.
Montana State 68, @ Pepperdine 66
The Bobcats will be ready to go, as they will have had a week off after losing a tough one to UC Riverside. They are improving offensively, especially with the emergence of Xavier Blount, but they need to find a way to make stops defensively. I think they will come out firing, and play just well enough to get a nice road win and some momentum.
North Dakota is 2-1 against the Big Sky this year, but Sacramento State knows this is a game they need in their quest for .500. They are 4-5 but are not playing very well. This should be a real competitive game, but it might come down to the PG play - Dylan Garrity vs. Jamal Webb. Webb is the more athletic guy, but I think Garrity will have one more play in them.
@ Oregon State 79, Portland State 72
Once again, a tough matchup for PSU because they will have a tough time with Jared Cunningham. Cunningham is one of the best players in the west, and his teammate Devin Collier is pretty darn good too. Portland State will need to hit some outside shots, but they have not been consistent enough there this year.
What are your thoughts? Any other games of note or any ones you think I have wrong?
Last Week: 2-3
Season Record: 14-8
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