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#1 UND (20-9) vs #4 Idaho (18-12) Big Sky Semis 3/10 7:35 pm


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With 6 players in double figures in scoring and a blazing start, UND was able to come up with a solid victory over hated PSU and advanced to the semi-finals for the 4th time in 5 years (seems like every year UND gets to this point).   Instead of playing their usual suspect Weber as in years past, UND will clash with the Vandals of Idaho, another semi-finalist from last year, for a trip to the title game Saturday Night. Idaho got to this point by avenging a defeat last year in Reno with a 81-77 victory over the Griz.

Idaho is back to a place where everybody thought they would be coming into the year, but it hasn't been easy.  Losing their 2nd best player to an ACL tear, then getting off to a slow start in conference play.  After starting off 1-3, they went 11-3 the rest of the way.  We all know about the dangerous Vic Sanders, who is making his case to be in the running for Big Sky POY next season and he has quality help in forward Brayon Blake.  However, in this recent winning streak a new player has stepped into the fold by the name of Arkadiy Mkrtychyan, who in the last 6 games has averaged 14.5 ppg and 5 rpg.  He has given Idaho another dimension and as a result, we have see Idaho play their best basketball of the year.  Oh, by the way.  Not only does everyone of significance come back next year, they will get their 2nd best player back next year as well.  Idaho should go into 2017-18 as the league favorite, at least in my eyes.

The last matchup in the regular season UND played possibly one of their best game of the year, they shut down Sanders to the point where Shanks matched his total points (11).  UND also shot the ball very well, took care of it, played solid defense,  and rebounded very well.  Idaho also shot 4-19 from downtown and 38% from the field overall.

UND just needs to keep doing what it has been doing so far in BSC play, get off to a good start, hit your shots, play great D and rebound.  Geno and Q had big games against them and Corey might have his shot back, Shanks could be of big use off the bench as well as Seales.  This is a different Idaho team from February and will more than likely play like it.  UND needs to be vary.

UND is 2-2 all time against Idaho in BSC play since the Vandals rejoined in 2014.  This is the first time matchup between the two in BSC tourney play.  UND is 1-2 all time in BSC semi matchups, while Idaho is 0-1

Other Game:

#2 Eastern Washington (22-10) vs #3 Weber State (18-12)

This has all the makings to be a good one, both teams split meetings against each other and won on their home courts.  Both teams looked impressive against their quarterfinal opponents.  It will be strength verses strength as Eastern's talented bigs clash with Weber's talented guards.  Two big questions:  Can Eastern hit enough shots if one of their big two is struggling or in foul trouble? Can Weber get enough help for Senglin and somehow slow down the big 2 of the Eagles?  Whoever can answer those questions the best will come away with a hard fought victory and a spot in the title game.

The Fallen:

Montana:  waiting to see if a postseason berth comes their way, otherwise a team that loses Wright, but brings a ton of talent back and is bringing in quite a bit too.  Poplar pick to win the league next year with Idaho.

Sac State: lose Hornsby and Stuteville, but bring back Strings and Graves.  Could very well be in the same spot at minimum next year

Portland State: Lose Parsons and Robinson, but bring back a solid core.  Might be a sleeper to make an Eastern like move next year

Southern Utah:  Long year but SUU can say they won more BSC tourney games this year than Montana.  Solid 1-2 punch of Randy O and McGee return, but the program has a bit of a ways to go before they are challenging the elite of the BSC.

The call:

This will be a different matchup that the one in the regular season.  You can't really expect Idaho to shoot 4-19 from downtown against and Sanders to struggle to get his points.  The also have a big that is playing very well since the 1st matchup, so they are starting to become quite a dangerous team.  UND also has to be feeling pretty good with getting their shooters going and getting great production off their bench.  This will be a much closer matchup that the first go around and Idaho will shoot a bit better.  UND however will bring another solid, balanced team effort and will punch its ticket into the Big Sky Conference finals and go to 2-0 in teams not named Weber in BSC semi play.

UND 79-73

Bonus pick:

EWU 84-80 OT

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I hope PSU's run was a wake up call, that even though up 26 its not over. I hope UND crushes the hell out of Idaho. Get off to a hot start and do not let off of that pedal til its over. Win by 20, 30, 50. Win and win big!! Show the rest of the BSC not to fu** with the Fighting Hawks!

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Idaho is tough because they rebound, make free throws and defend rarely beat themselves....UND needs to make 3s, push the pace and geno to stay out of foul trouble.  Hayford  is the coach most likely to land another coaching job...he put himself on the market last spring ...and picking up grad transfer stud Wiley keeps his winning record going strong...last season he picked up stud grad transfer McBroom ... He will need to grab another stud for next season or his team will drop quite a bit and his coaching stock will drop also .  If Hall returns to MSU they will be a BSC contender with almost everyone back plus 2 D1 transfers...UNC has 2 redshirts both high level BSC players coming in next season plus everyone else back....they will have to trim their roster to ten tendered players again next season....Weber has 6'8 Breckott Chapman coming in next season ...a former ESPN Top 50 recruit will be by far the highest rated kid to play in BSC and a certain all league player....The BSC looks to be the strongest ever next season...

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