University of Montana
Location: Missoula, Montana
Home: Dahlberg Arena
Conference: Big Sky
Colors: Maroon and Silver
Fight Song: “Up With Montana”
Head Coach: Wayne Tinkle (2005-Present)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 1975, 1991, 1992, 1997, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2012
Big Sky Regular Season Champs: 1975, 1978, 1991, 1992, 1995, 2000, 2012
Big Sky Tournament Championships: 1991, 1992, 1997, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2012
The Badgers (24-9, 4 seed East Region) start their NCAA tournament with a trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico to take on the Grizzlies of Montana (25-6, 13 seed East Region). The game is being played at University Arena on the campus of New Mexico University. Coverage starts on Thursday at 1:10 PM CT on TNT.
Montana, currently on a 14 game win streak, is a defensive based team led by a few talented guards. They love to get out and run on the fast break and get transition buckets.
Junior Point Guard Will Cherry is lightning fast and a great passer and scores in bunces. He sees the floor well, averaging 16 points and 3.4 assists per game. Cherry is a also one of the nations best defenders. He is currently averaging 2.6 steals a game, ranking top 10 in the nation. Jordan Taylor won’t have an easy day, that’s for sure.
Sophomore Small Forward Kareem Jamar is a do it all sort of guy. He’s averaging 13.8 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 3.7 assists a game. Very impressive numbers for just a sophomore. He’s also a very efficient player who takes good shots, shooting 47.8% from the field and 44.5% from three on the year. He is a great three point shooter and can get hot quickly. He is a very valuable player to the Grizzlies, and could cause headaches for the Badgers defense.
Montana isn’t just guard play though. Their 7’0 Senior Center Derek Selvig could be quite a challenge for Jared Berggren and Ryan Evans. The Badgers are lacking in size, so look for Montana to try to take advantage of that with Selvig. He’s averaging 9.2 points and 6.1 rebounds on the year. Selvig can be quite a turnover machine at times though.
To win this game, Wisconsin will have to effectively slow down the pace of the game and stop Montana in transition. The Grizzlies are capable of going on large scoring runs that could devestate the Badgers, especially during Bucky’s common scoring drouts this year. This year Wisconsin has had trouble with transistion teams like Marquette and Michigan State. This game is no easy bye for the Badgers. It is a big test that could easily come down to the wire. If Wisconsin isn’t shooting well, this could be a ugly game for Badger fans. I do think Montana will have a tough time with the Badger defense, and they’ll eventually fall in to the slow tempo of Wisconsin.
Prediction: Wisconsin 67, Montana 57