Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Thursday Night Predictions

Four games on tap Thursday night, and we know the importance of games on the title race, and on the race to make the conference tournament. Let's take a look.

Montana @ Idaho
This is a huge game for many reasons. For one, with a loss, Idaho suddenly finds itself right on the bubble for the last conference tourney spot. For Montana, the implications are obvious, if they win this, it sets up a huge game on Saturday in Cheney. In these teams first meeting in Missoula, the Grizzlies limited the Vandals to just 0.90 PPP, as Idaho wasn't able to get free for any outside looks. That will be key, because of Idaho's offense is generated via the three-point shot (about 36% of their points come via it). Since this is in Moscow, it will be a battle, but Montana is just playing better basketball right now. I expect this one to be close, but I trust the Grizzlies to pull it out. Montana 73, Idaho 70

Montana State @ Eastern Washington
In some sense, this could be a trap game for the Eagles, because they play Montana on Saturday, and because MSU has been playing pretty solidly as of late. However, I don't think it will play out that way for a few reasons. For one, it's in Cheney, and that should help. Two, the Eagles know how important every game is for the title hopes. Three, they haven't been playing great basketball the last couple of weeks, so they know how susceptible they are. I think they handle this game fairly easily. Eastern Washington 79, Montana State 70

Northern Arizona @ North Dakota
NAU knows it still has a chance to win the conference crown, but a tough two-game roadtrip begins in Grand Forks. The Jacks shooting can come and go, but their best attribute offensively is their ability to crash the offensive glass, which is something UND has to watch for. But the story of this game, I think, will be on the other end, where NAU should be able to suffocate UND, not given them any second chances, and restrict opportunities in the paint. That is why I like the Jacks in this game. Northern Arizona 66, North Dakota 61

Southern Utah @ Northern Colorado
A win for SUU would put them in a tie with Weber State (and possibly Idaho) for the final tournament spot, so the stakes are quite clear for them. They go against a UNC team that is struggling badly right now, but always plays a lot better at home. This should be a fun game. The TBirds love to put you on the foul line, but drawing fouls and getting to the line isn't necessarily a strength for UNC. The game is most interesting if only because we never know what we'll see from UNC. However,  I think the desperation of playing at home, being under .500  in Big Sky play, and having lost four straight games will help. Northern Colorado 81, Southern Utah 74

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  1. Nice write up Jon.

    My predictions:
    Montana 72, Idaho 60
    EWU 84, Montana St 71
    NAU 75, North Dakota 61
    S. Utah 72, N. Colorado 69

  2. Exhibit A in my case for Chris Yanku as the best field general in the conference...tonight's win against a scrappy UND team. 24 points, 12 assists to 1 turnover (happened in the last minute of play). PS- Love that Guard Hooker for UND. Tough kid, makes some amazing shots. #1JacksFan

  3. Great to see Venky back in the saddle. He was dominant last night. Harvey still struggling with his shooting % but he looked a little better. I think EWU is almost back, and that's scary for the rest of the Big Sky. GO EAGS!

  4. so much for the big bad Montana winning like everyone predicted. Everyone was ready to anoint them as champions already...this is why we play the game..haha

  5. They had that game and they blew it... Just horrible down the stretch, and credit to Idaho for making some big FTs, and then being downright unstoppable in that second OT.

  6. Jon, who are you predicting to win the Montana vs. EW game this weekend, I'm sure your going to write about this...

    1. Not positive if I'll have time to write a full breakdown, but I like EWU to win it in Cheney. Montana's D is best when it can force turnovers, and the Eagles do a great job usually of taking care of the basketball. I think they will hand the Griz their second straight loss.

  7. I predict this will be an epic battle. Probably decided in the last 1-2 minutes. My gut is telling me Montana wins it. Something similar to the game EWU lost to NAU.