Once again there are five games on the Big Sky slate for Thursday night, so let's take a crack at some predictions!
Weber State 75, @ Southern Utah 59
The records (WSU 4-0, SUU 3-1) make this one seem like a marquee Big Sky matchup, but I'm not sure it's going to play out that way. Weber State has been really good lately, and they are in the top 90 in both offensive and defensive efficiency (put another way, Montana is second best in each, and they are 170th in the country in both adjusted offense and defense). Simply put, by the efficiency numbers, Weber State is the best team in the conference and it's not all that close. Southern Utah will struggle to score in this game.
Montana 67, @ North Dakota 65
You know the Grizzlies will be motivated, because they went into Grand Forks last season and got beat by North Dakota in OT. But I'm not sure North Dakota is as good as it was last year - it's Adj D has dropped from 209th last year to 300th this year. They just aren't getting stops. On the other side, the fact that Will Cherry has gotten to the line 21 times in the last two games is a good sign for the health of his foot - he is being aggressive going to the rim. The Grizzlies are slowly finding their groove.
@ Northern Colorado 74, Montana State 70
UNC looked very bad in their last outing, but it was their fourth straight road game. Of their 12 games this year, nine have been away from home, and two of those home games were against non-DI competition. So you have to figure they will be excited for this game. They had better be, because the Bobcats have showed a lot of scrappiness in the last two games. The key will be how well the Bears hold onto the ball - they are 306th in the country in turnover percentage, while MSU is 51st in the country at forcing turnovers. Tevin Svihovec, your team needs you. I think they will respond.
@ Portland State 67, Sacramento State 62
The Vikings have quietly played pretty good basketball lately. They lost to WSU at home in OT, and then went on the road and gave Montana State and Montana good games. Meanwhile, the Hornets played a slobberknocker on Monday night, a game that had to be mentally and physically draining. For PSU, Aaron Moore is starting to make a bid to be an all-conference player, as he has three straight double-doubles and is fourth in the Big Sky in rebounding.
@ Eastern Washington 81, Northern Arizona 71
This one will be in Cheney, and could be the most entertaining game of the night. EWU simply has to start playing better defense - so far this season they have been the worst defensive team in the conference. For NAU, DeWayne Russell continues to lead the conference in scoring (16.6 PPG), but he has struggled a bit over the last six games. But at this point in the year, it's not farfetched to say he has an argument to be the player of the year. Another strong freshman is Venky Jois for EWU, who leads the Big Sky in rebounding (9.1 per game).
What are your thoughts?
Last Week: 4-1
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