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UND (4-9, 0-2) @ Montana (9-5, 2-0) 1/4 8 PM

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Well the first round of conference games didn't go very well for UND.  21 turnovers and a big Ukrainian proved to be too much as EWU managed to come away with the road win.  UND looks to turn it around as they go west to take on a very good Griz squad. 

Coach DeCuire is very beloved by Griz fans.  There is a lot of them that think that they can go very far with him as a coach and hope he can stay long term and not go anywhere.  Truthfully, there has been a lot more sizzle that steak.  The measurement in Missoula has been NCAA tournaments and so far he has come up empty.  Last year was a bit of a disappointment with a 16-16 record and getting bounced in the BSC Quarters, despite being one of the 4 favorites going in.  This year, however, might finally be the breakthrough year for the Griz.  

Head to Head in the Big Sky:  The Griz have a commanding 8-1 lead in the series, including an unblemished 5-0 record in Missoula. 

Key Players: Ahmaad Rorie and Michael Oguine.  This 1-2 punch at guard is possibly the best the Big Sky has to offer. What they make up for in height (they run 6'1 and 6'2 respectively) they make up for in great basketball intangibles.  They both can drive to the hoop, shoot for distance and are sneaky rebounders.  A lot of the Griz early success can be contributed to these two playing very well and Rorie is putting up numbers that will put him on the short list for Big Sky POY and Oguine is definitely putting up 1st team conference numbers.  Geno and Stewart need to be ready for this battle, it should be a fun matchup. 

Keys:

1) How will UND respond?: UND got swept at home.  Its not a great situation and with the schedule as is, could really start to get out of hand quick.  They haven't put it all together yet, but they don't have all the time in the world to put it all together.  Will they respond with the team that went out to Hawaii and Zaga? Or will it be more of the same inconsistency. 

2) Can UND get some help from the bench:  One of the sore spots has been the lack of a bench all year for this team and will continue to be until someone steps into the fray.  Walter and Jafar had flashes of being that but have since fizzled out.  Now Tray managed to put together a couple of decent games, could he finally be the person that emerges? They need consistency so bad in this department.

3) Dale vs Akoh

The guard matchup will be the main event but this individual battle will be a nice undercard.  Akoh has given the Griz some decent size and stretch abilities they didn't have last year.  Usually for UND, the bugaboo against the Griz was that size and stretch abilities.  Dale has proven to be an upgrade (yes, I said it) over Drick, but how well will be handle the big guy in this one?  

Other games: 

MSU (2-0) vs UNC (2-0)

Game of the night will be in Bozeman.  The coaches darlings held serve at home, including an impressive win over league favorite Idaho.  The Cats managed to escape with two wins on the road against SUU and NAU.  How legit is UNC?  We are going to find out.  A sweep of the Montana schools will put them in very good shape with Weber and ISU coming in next week.  The Cats did what they needed to do and now need to hold serve at home.  Hall and Frey vs Davis and Spight?  That is a great matchup waiting to happen

EWU (1-1) vs PSU (0-1)

Eastern is probably happy to get out of weekend with a split, including the first ever win in Grand Forks.  PSU got stunned by travel partner Sac State in Sacramento and is looking to bounce back. PSU doesn't want to going into Moscow 0-2, while Eastern would love to defend the home court. Borgan will always given EWU a chance. Going to be an interesting contrast of styles going into this one.

SAC (1-0) @  Idaho (1-1)

Sac State came away with an impressive victory at home vs PSU, they would love to do it again in Moscow against the Vandals, who possibly is wondering what-if from last weekend. Strings always can go get his points but he is going to need some help.  Sanders and company are looking to bounce back and hold serve at home.

SUU (0-2) @ ISU (1-0)

ISU fans are elated after knocking off arch-rival Weber at their place, and suddenly look at this weekend for an opportunity to start 3-0 in conference play.  Well, this game will not be easy.  SUU may have lost both of their games to the Montana schools but this isn't the T-Birds of last year.  Of course neither are the Bengals who are improved under the old addition by subtraction rule.  Neither team right now is a threat to the big dogs but if you are looking ahead to Reno, I wouldn't want to see the T-Birds in my QF matchup. 

NAU (0-2) @ Weber (0-1)

So who here had Weber and NAU battling for the first win? (Unless you are a Bengal fan who read this, I suggest you put your hand down, nobody did). NAU put up a fight against MSU but got swept and Weber was stunned at home against travel partner ISU.  Weber will look at this weekend to get back on track before a tough UNC/UND road swing, they can't afford to drop anymore against teams they should beat.  NAU just looking to build off of the OT loss to MSU, could they stun Weber?

The Call:

Missoula has not been very good to UND, and I am sure they are looking to change that. It would be an impressive feather in their caps if they went in and knocked the Griz off of their perch, it could be a springboard for the rest of the season.  With that said, that would mean that UND got more production from its bench and Geno/Stewart got the best of Rorie/Oguine.  I think UND will make positive steps but alas, the Griz will be too much again this time. 

Griz 84-71

Other games:

Weber, SUU, Idaho, PSU, and MSU are my picks

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I get that the Griz are a good team and all and we are still trying to figure things out, but this should be a much better team then the level they are currently playing at

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