RTC Live: Montana @ Long Beach StatePosted by rtmsf on February 19th, 2011
Game #146. One of the better BracketBuster games of the day is in SoCal, as Big Sky leader Montana visits Big West leader Long Beach State.
Finishing up BracketBusters Saturday, we’ve got a battle between two conference-leading teams, in an odd sort of matchup that is little more than a glorified exhibition. The outcome of this game will have no impact on either team’s NCAA Tournament resume, as both the 49ers and the Grizzlies will need to win their conference tournaments in order to advance to the Big Dance. And, this inter-conference game will also have no effect on the seeding of either team in their conference tourneys. However, the absence of any tangible importance to this game will have little effect on the players on these squads, getting a rare chance for each team to appear on national television in the form of an ESPN2 broadcast. And, the matchups between the two teams are enticing. The Niners come into the game riding a five-game winning streak and have a two-game lead in the Big West, while the Grizzlies have won three straight, including an important win over Northern Colorado a week ago tonight to give Montana a half-game lead in the Big Sky. For the 49ers, all five starters average double-figure scoring, junior point guard Casper Ware is the reigning Big West Player of the Week and junior forwards Larry Anderson and T.J. Robinson have also won that honor this season. On the other end of the court, sophomore guard Will Cherry should provide a good match for Ware, while the size in the middle of the Grizzly lineup (6’11 senior center Brian Qvale and 7’0 junior forward Derek Selvig) will challenge the 6’5 Anderson and 6’8 Robinson. Qvale just recently became the all-time leader in blocked shots in Big Sky history (he has 232 career blocks and a blocked shot on 11% of all opponents two-point field goals this season), and the combination of the great size in the middle of the defense and Cherry’s excellent defense on the perimeter (he adds a steal in over 5% of all defensive possessions, good for sixth in the nation) will undoubtedly give Long Beach trouble. But LBSU’s history of playing a tough schedule (they had the third toughest non-conference slate this year according to KenPom, with games against San Diego State, Washington and North Carolina, among others), combined with their athleticism should make this a fascinating matchup. We hope you’ll join us to wrap up your college basketball Saturday with an entertaining game and some good chat.