Between Friday and Sunday, every Big Sky team will have a game under their belt. The season is finally here! So, let's take a look at all of the games, and offer up a little prediction for them all.
CSU is beginning life without Tim Miles, while Montana begins life (for now) without Will Cherry. In last year's game between these teams, CSU won by absolutely dominating the boards, and that could be the case again this year. With a frontline of Pierce Hornung, Greg Smith, and Colton Iverson, the Grizzlies need to hit the glass hard. I am not sure if they will have the personnel for that.
@ Kansas State 72, North Dakota 64
UND will immediately get to test if their chops on the road, as they travel to the Little Apple to take on a KSU team that won 20+ games last year. They will need to find a way to slow down senior guard Rodney McGruder, who averaged 16 points per game last year. I think UND will keep it close, but KSU might be a little too physical.
@ Gonzaga 81, Southern Utah 64
This is a tough debut for Nick Robinson, traveling to take on a solid and experienced Gonzaga team. They don't have the offensive firepower to hang with the Zags, so will need to try and slow the game down and limit possessions. I am afraid that might be easier said than done.
@ Weber State 79, Arizona Christian 55
The Wildcats begin with a warmup game, which will hopefully help to further establish a rotation and pecking order offensively. It will be long awaited WSU debut for Davion Berry, who could lead them in scoring this year and be among the conference leaders.
@ Sacramento State 72, UC Merced 59
The Hornets quest for .500 begins with what should be a relatively easy game against UC Merced. The interesting part here will be watching the guys off the bench - especially Mikh McKinney, Cody Demps, and Joey Quigley. They are three newcomers that look like they will be heavily relied on to provide production.
@ Portland State 84, Pacific (OR) 70
PSU's exhibition game featured a ton of offense, but not too much defense. Here, I expect them to push the pace and get a lot of easy baskets against Pacific. Renado Parker should begin his senior year with a very productive game.
Oregon 78, Northern Arizona 63
This is a neutral court game, but will be a tough one for NAU to keep up with the Ducks. They could have a tough time stopping Oregon's frontline with Arsalan Kazemi (though he probably will not be eligible), EJ Singler, and Tony Woods. They will need to be hitting from outside, but that will be a tall order against a good Ducks team.
@ Utah State 73, Idaho State 59
There might not be a duo that shoots more threes in the Big Sky this year than Chris Hansen and Melvin Morgan, who will be firing early and often. ISU needs to take good care of the ball, which has been a little bit of a struggle in exhibition games. They are the clear underdogs here, but have a chance if they can get hot from the outside.
@ Northern Colorado 78, College of Southwest 54
This one should be over pretty quickly, as UNC will have superior and depth in this game. BJ Hill will be watching the team's turnovers, to see if they can make strides in taking care of the basketball. This will be an easy one for Derrick Barden to break into the lineup, and for Hill to figure out the rotation.
@ Washington State 71, Eastern Washington 62
This is a game that EWU can win, and they will come out believing that. The Eagles had a tough non-conference schedule last year, but couldn't get the big win. They get a chance early here. As could often be the case, it could come down to how well they shoot the ball. They will also need big men such as Venky Jois and Martin Seiferth to be sound on the glass against a WSU frontline that is led by very good senior forward Brock Motum.
Montana State 72, @ Seattle 70
Seattle is a solid team that ended last season by winning six of seven, but MSU is usually fast starters under Huse. Their guard play will get them a nice road win early in the season, as the Antonio Biglow, Jamie Stewart, Xavier Blount, and Christian Moon is a good core to have.
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