Read through the rest of the NCAA Tournament Cheat Sheets here.
Conference: Big Sky
Coach: Wayne Tinkle
Record: 26-7, 11-3 (2nd)
Rankings and Ratings:
– Kenpom: 81
– RPI: 77
– AP/Coaches: Unranked
Seeding?: Montana is probably looking at somewhere around a 14 or 15 seed despite winning the Big Sky’s regular season and tournament titles.
Names to know: Will Cherry (16.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 3.4 apg), Kareem Jamar (13.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 3.7 apg), Matthias Ward (11.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg)
Stats to know: Watching Montana play, you would think that the strength of this team is on the offensive end of the floor. No so. The Grizzlies rank 44th nationally in defensive efficiency and 26th nationally in defensive effective field goal percentage.
Tendencies: Montana’s strength is in their back court, where Will Cherry and Kareem Jamar have proven to be versatile playmakers. There is some size up front and Tinkle does like to get the ball inside, but the Grizzlies thrive on their back court’s ability to make plays and hit shots. They are also a very good three-point shooting team.
Big wins, bad losses: Montana beat Weber State twice and also notched a win over Long Beach State earlier in the season. Their only questionable loss was to North Dakota.
How’d they get here?: After earning the No. 1 seed in the Big Sky Tournament by beating Weber State on the last day of the regular season, the Grizzlies beat the Wildcats in the tournament finals on their home court.
Outlook: I like this Montana team. Cherry and Jamar are going to be the best mid-major back court in the country next season. With Matthias Ward and Derek Selvig up front, the Grizzlies have a very good, very bearded front line. They defend and they can hit threes. The only problem? They are on track to take on a two or a three seed. Are they good enough to pull off that kind of an upset? I don’t know, but I do know they will give a fight to whoever they play in the first round.