Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thursday Night Preview and Predictions

Six games remain for each team, and with everything so close, EVERY game takes on added importance. Literally, every game potentially has huge implications in who makes the conference tournament, and who doesn't. So, let's take a look at each game on Thursday night, with some predictions.

Portland State @ Southern Utah
This game features the two Big Sky teams with conference records under .500, but that doesn't mean it's devoid of storylines. Portland State has to have a win or they will be eliminated from the conference tournament race, and this could be the Thunderbirds best shot at a win this year. PSU is the type of team that SUU can match up against, because the TBirds physical style will disrupt the Vikings offensive flow. I think that the time has come. Southern Utah 64, Portland State 62

Idaho State @ Montana State
Idaho State got their biggest win of the season over Weber State, but they can't afford to celebrate or it will be for nothing. Both teams are at 7-7, and know that a loss puts them outside where they need to be. I'll take Montana State for two reasons. One, the game is at home, which we know is huge in the Big Sky. Two, ISU has little depth, and coming off an emotional win three days ago, it will be tough to bring the same energy. The Bobcats appeared to figure some things out offensively last week, let's see if it lasts. Montana State 67, Idaho State 64

North Dakota @ Sacramento State
This one should be a fun game, as both teams have been playing well offensively, especially the Hornets. Sac State should get ample open looks, and I think Dylan Garrity and Mikh McKinney could both have big games, which has been the norm for them lately. On the other side, it's hard to see how the Hornets slow down Troy Huff, Jaron Nash, and the frontcourt athleticism that UND has. Look for an entertaining, back and forth game, with the Hornets making just a couple more plays down the stretch. Sacramento State 78, North Dakota 74

Northern Colorado @ Northern Arizona
Northern Colorado regained second place, but let's see if they can hold it, and reverse their road struggles (2-8 this year). When the two teams met in Greeley, UNC was just the better team, and was more talented, experienced, and polished. However, they aren't the same team away from home, and NAU is playing good basketball. Quenton Upshur has been one of the best players in the conference lately, and I think he'll have a big game, and the Bears' two guards struggle to guard him. This should be another close one, but I'll take the home team. Northern Arizona 75, Northern Colorado 73

Weber State @ Montana
While this game doesn't quite carry the glamour of previous years meetings, it's still a big game in the conference landscape. Weber State is 11-3, though they still hold a two game lead and are still the favorite. Montana is battling for its conference tournament life (and position) at 7-7. Lately, the Grizzlies have looked like the second best offensive team in the conference (after UNC), but they still have major struggles defensively, which Weber should be poised to pounce on. Look for the Wildcats to pound the ball inside early and often, and see if Montana can stop them down low. It was a close Weber win when the teams met in Ogden, and I think the result will be the same even in Missoula. Weber State 70, Montana 66

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