Matchup: No. 14 Montana State vs. No. 3 Texas Tech
Date and Time: Friday, March 18 at 1:45 p.m. ET
Location: Viejas Arena, San Diego
DraftKings Line: Texas Tech -15, O/U 132.5
The Montana State Bobcats were the best team in the Big Sky all season long and won both the conference regular season and tournament championships. Winners of six straight games, they head into the NCAA Tournament as a 14-seed and will matchup against No. 3 Texas Tech this afternoon.
This marks Montana State’s first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 1996. The Bobcats went 16-4 against conference foes and finished two games ahead of Southern Utah in the regular season. They bring a 27-7 overall record into the Big Dance, which is the most wins in program history since the 1929 season.
They boasted the second-best defense in the conference by allowing 68.5 points per game. Offensively, they led the pack by hitting 47.5% of their shots.
Xavier Bishop led the team in scoring at 13.9 points per game, which ranked 12th in the Big Sky. Jubrile Belo was right behind him at 13.0 points. Amin Adamu was the third Bobcat in double figures at 11.6.
Belo was the best shot blocker in the league and turned away 1.8 shots per game. He was named the Big Sky’s Most Valuable Player as well as Defensive Player of the Year. Bishop was tied for second in the conference with 4.3 assists per contest.
Led by Big Sky Coach of the Year Danny Sprinkle, Montana State defeated Northern Colorado 87-66 in the title game. The Bobcats outshot the Bears 52% to 30%, including 56% to 25% from 3-point land.
“It was our best game of the year,” Sprinkle said.
Bishop won Tournament MVP honors as he amassed 19 points and eight assists. Adamu netted 16 points and was joined in double figures by Nick Gazelas (15) and Tyler Patterson (14).