As we move towards tomorrow’s start of conference tournament play, the number of small conference regular season games grows smaller and smaller. However, there is a very important game on tap tonight in the Big Sky Conference, which is our featured SCGD. At 9:00 PM Eastern, Big Sky leader Montana will face its final road test of the season when they travel to take on the Southern Utah Thunderbirds.
Montana enters tonight’s game with a half game lead over Weber State in the Big Sky standings. Weber State has only two home games left, against Portland State and Eastern Washington, two of the worst three teams in the league. As a result, Montana most likely needs to win out its final three games in order to take the outright regular season championship and clinch home court advantage for the Big Sky tournament, as well as a first round bye. While after tonight Montana will have two more home games left, both of which appear winnable (Sacramento State and Northern Arizona), tonight they face a potentially tough road test in Southern Utah. The Thunderbirds sit at 8-9 in conference play and are one of 5 teams battling for the final 4 conference tournament spots.
Montana is coming off of a huge 71-68 win over in-state rival Montana State, a game in which four players scored in double figures. That win was also significant in that it clinched Montana’s fourth consecutive 20-win season, a feat that had not been accomplished since the mid-80s when Mike Montgomery was the head coach. Southern Utah’s last time out also came against Montana State, who defeated them 62-61. SUU led almost the entire way against the Bobcats, relinquishing the lead for the first time with just over a minute left. The Thunderbirds will certainly come out playing hard in what will be their final home game of the season, with both the festivities of Senior Night and the bitter taste of their loss last time out to overcome.