Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Thursday Night Preview

Another week of Big Sky action is upon us, so let's take a look at the four games to be played Thursday night, some of the keys to the games, and some predictions.

Eastern Washington at Portland State
The Vikings will have a chance since this is in Portland, but it will take a defensive effort they haven't really shown capable of yet so far. Teams have been gashing the Vikings in the paint (teams shoot over 54% on twos against the Viks), which could position Venky Jois to have a big game. Jois shoots 58% inside the arc, and he does it on a lot of attempts. PSU has good athletes up front, but I'm not sure they have the size to slow Jois down. When PSU has the ball, a lot of their offense is predicated on getting to the line, with guard DaShaun Wiggins leading the way as being one of the best in the country at drawing fouls. However, EWU does a fairly good job of staying out of foul trouble, with Jois again being excellent at blocking and contesting shots without fouling. This doesn't set up great for PSU to me. Eastern Washington 84, Portland State 78

Idaho at Sacramento State
The only thing keeping this one a little lower scoring than last week's EWU/Idaho tilt is the fact that Sac State doesn't play at that fast of a pace. They average over 19 seconds per offensive possessions, which is in the bottom half of the NCAA in terms of speed (on the other hand, Idaho using just over 16 seconds per possession, a top 30 mark in fast pace). Still, both offense bookend sometimes devastating offenses with sometimes crippling defenses. It's hard to pinpoint where the offenses may attack, because there should be no shortage of options. The difference in the game (other than the location), may be that Idaho has been giving opponents tons of looks from three-point range, which could mean big things for Dylan Garrity. This one will be entertaining, and could certainly go either way, but I think the Hornets make one more play down the stretch. Sacramento State 78, Idaho 76

Weber State at Northern Arizona
Over the course of the season, these two teams have been the best defensively in the Big Sky, though neither really qualifies as a shutdown defense. I am a little worried about Quinton Upshur, who hasn't been the scoring threat that the Jacks need him to be, as all of his shooting percentages are down this year compared to last season. NAU has been missing Max Jacobsen insofar as they don't have a lot of threats inside, and the strength of most of their perimeter players is that they shoot the ball well. They plays right into the hands of Weber's defense, which funnels you away from the foul line. Weber State 68, Northern Arizona 62

Idaho State at Southern Utah
Could this be SUU's first conference win of the year and second in two seasons? It will be an interesting contest, as ISU plays a slow pace (though Bill Evans did say before the year they wanted to play faster) and zone defense, while SUU plays a fast pace (buoyed by a bench that plays more minutes than any other bench in the country) and very physical man to man defense, which results in a ton of fouls and foul shots for the other team.  For teams that can aggressively attack, that can be a big boost, but the Bengals don't have that type of team. This could be an ugly slugfest at times, but I like the TBirds to come away with a win. Southern Utah 64, Idaho State 59

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1 comment:

  1. Some good match-ups tonight. Hornets will have a tough one, especially considering EWU follows up this weekend. I'm hoping we can at least get a split.