With four Big Sky games on Thursday, I'll break up the previews into two parts! Look for part two on Wednesday night or Thursday morning (hopefully you will be able to contain your excitement!)
Northern Colorado @ Idaho State
How UNC can win: Hit their outside shots. Simply put, the Bears are one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country, and ISU is one of the worst at stopping the three-ball. Their other key isto never leave Chase Grabau. Simply put, not a lot of guys in the Big Sky make as many plays as Grabau.
How ISU can win: Conversely from UNC's key, ISU needs to stop the three. They have to make sure the perimeter is covered at all times, because UNC can be deadly from out there. The other thing defensively is to force turnovers, which they have actually been pretty good at. UNC likes to give the ball away, and they can be rattled with their youth. Offense, they need Kenny McGowen and Melvin Morgan to score in double figures. That is vital to their offense.
Who will win: There is something interesting going on in Pocatello right now. I never would have guessed this, but they have a great chance to be 4-4 in the Big Sky. After the Sacramento State game, it seems like they have some new confidence. They hung with PSU in Portland, and then beat NAU soundly. I think this is a game they EXPECT to win, and that has not been a common occurrence for them. I think UNC's road woes continue. IDAHO STATE 73, NORTHERN COLORADO 70
Montana @ Eastern Washington
How MT can win: They beat EWU once this year (a hard-fought 79-71 win), in part thanks to a career day from Mathias Ward. I doubt they will be able to count on that again. They key to beating EWU is to remain aggressive... EWU's foul problems are well documented, which should be music to the ears of Will Cherry, Kareem Jamar, and Art Steward (who are all good at drawing fouls). The other key is to take care of the ball... EWU is solid at forcing opponents to give the ball up, and that gives them some easy baskets. Montana needs to have a solid handle on it.
How EWU can win: Obviously, avoid foul trouble. That has been their Achilles heel all year long, and they can't keep giving opponents 40+ free throws in a game. Another key for them will be to maintain their composure and make smart plays at the end of the game. Two straight games they have been ahead in the final 30 seconds, and both times they have lost. This game is likely to be close as well, and they need to execute at the end of the game.
Who will win: On paper, I think Eastern Washington should win a tight one since this is in Cheney. However, they need a bit of a confidence boost after two straight heartbreaking losses, and it might start to get in their heads. Montana, on the other hand, is playing their best basketball of the year. Other than their loss to Weber State, they are mauling opponents right now (get it?), and I think they can go into Cheney and steal one. MONTANA 77, EASTERN WASHINGTON 72
Your thoughts? Who do you have winning these games?
(Tomorrow's previews: Weber State @ Sacramento State / Montana State @ Portland State)
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