Friday, December 8, 2017

UCSB vs. Montana State Game Preview, by Gaucho Freg

Montana State Preview

Saturday, December 9, 2017, 1:00 PST

By the Numbers;
MSU Rankings:                                                                 UCSB Rankings:
DC2:  159                                                                           DC2:  106
RPI:  77, RPI SOS:  74                                                       RPI:  44, RPI SOS:  156
Pomeroy:  185                                                                    Pomeroy:  164

The Gauchos go back on the road to face a Montana State Bobcats team that might be a little angry after getting walloped by Central Michigan earlier this week.  The Bobcats have been road warriors and this will be their first home game against a D1 program.  Their home is the Brick Breeden Arena, originally opened in 1957, seats 8455, renovated twice (1993, 2013).  They’ve averaged about 2400 a game but expect more Saturday as their other home games were against lower division teams.  Of consideration, the arena is located at an elevation of ~ 4900 feet so altitude could play a factor for our team not accustomed to it.

The Bobcats have played a more difficult schedule than the Gauchos losing on the road to Louisiana Tech, Utah State and Fresno State.  The teams have one shared opponent in Nebraska Omaha with both coming out victorious, the Bobcats winning by 9 in their opening game which was on a “neutral” (in Great Falls, MT) court.  They will be the second out of three Big Sky opponents for the Gauchos this season with the Gauchos defeating Montana and yet to play Sac State. The Bobcats were picked fourth in the Big Sky, just behind Montana.  UCSB and Montana State have played 10 times in a series that began in 1972. The Gauchos hold a 9-1 all-time edge. The teams last met on Dec. 12, 2009 with the Bobcats recording a 76-64 victory in Bozeman. The last time Santa Barbara won a game in the series was on February 21, 2009, when it won a 78-72 overtime in SB.

Looking at their season stats, which are skewed by their stinker of a game against CMU, the Bobcats are scoring 77ppg and giving up 75 ppg.   They attempt about 21 3pt shots per game and make them at a .381 clip which includes their 1-16 performance against the Chippewas.  They force about 13 turnovers per game. 

The Bobcats have a star player who deserves the focus of the Gaucho defense.  Junior wing Tyler Hall (6’5”, 210) is the pre-season Big Sky MVP and was shut down by CMU, scoring zero points in just 11 minutes of play.  On their message board, the fans said he might be nursing an ankle injury which would explain that performance.  Still, he is scoring about 19 ppg, takes a lot a of threes, about 8 attempts per game and makes them at a .432 clip.  He only attempts a couple fts per game but is shooting .913 from the line. 

Running the point is sophomore Harald Frey (6’1”, 180 lb) from Norway.   He is second on the team in scoring with 14.3 ppg and leads the team in assists with 3.2.  He takes five three pointers a game and is making them at a .400 clip.
RS Junior Forward Keljin Belvins who transferred from S. Mississippi (6’6”, 200 lb) is third in scoring with 8.9 and second in rebounding, 4.7 pg.
These three are the only players to average more than 25 minutes.
Senior reserve forward Konner Frey (6’6”, 200 lb), no relation to Harald, leads the team in rebounds with 5.3 pg in only 17 minutes of play.
Juniors Devonte Kline, a 6’0” guard and Sam Neuman, a 6’7” forward have started most of the games.

Match-up, prediction:  Since opening with an easy win over NDSU, the rest of our games have been close, Texas A&M excepted.  Despite our 7-2 record, we are only outscoring our opponents for the season by about 3.  I think this game hinges upon the health of Tyler Hall.  If he is 100%, it seems that he is the kind of player that can keep his team in the game no matter what.  If he is injured and is unable to perform, then the Gauchos should end up winning comfortably.
I’ll go with that Hall is healthy and while I penciled this game as a loss before the season started, with the way the Gauchos are playing now, I predict the Gauchos end up in another battle but are able to once again come out on top.  UCSB 78 MSU 74

Montana State Fun Fact:  Their 1928-29 men’s team won the mythical National Championship as awarded by both the Helms Foundation and the Premo-Porretta Power Poll.  These two groups bestowed national titles retrospectively to whom they deemed to be the best teams in the years before the NCAA tournament got started. 

Official Site:
Hey Guys! (with my preview of UCSB):
How to Watch: ... igSky.aspx

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