Northern Colorado (2-6) at North Dakota (2-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, December 21, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Betty Engelstad Sioux Center (3,064) -- Grand Forks, North Dakota. Television: None. Home Record: UNC 2-1, UND 2-1. Away Record: UNC 0-5, UND 0-5. Neutral Record: UNC 0-0, UND 0-0. Conference Record: UNC 0-0, UND 0-0. Series Record: North Dakota leads, 40-19.
GAME NOTES: North Dakota will make its Big Sky Conference home debut as it hosts the Northern Colorado Bears in Grand Forks.
The Bears ended a six-game losing slide with a 90-62 rout of Tabor College of the NAIA. Northern Colorado still lacks a win over a Division I opponent this season as its only prior victory came over Southwest, another NAIA school, in its season opener. Coach B.J. Hill's squad has yet to find success in five roads games, but has a healthy scoring offense average of 71.9 points per game on 45.8 percent field goal shooting. The Bears are allowing opponents to score 73.2 ppg and convert 42.2 percent of their field goal tries.
North Dakota is coming off of a 79-67 loss to Southern Utah in its first appearance as a member of the BSC. The team has also failed to earn a win over a Division I opponent although it only lost to Hawaii, South Dakota State, and UMKC by a combined nine points. Coach Brian Jones needs to get his unit playing better on the offensive end as it produces only 65 ppg, which is 2.3 points less than it allows.
Although UND is new to the conference, this will be the 60th matchup between these schools, which used to belong to the now extinct North Central Conference. UND holds a 40-19 all-time series lead coming into Friday's action.
Northern Colorado had its second best offensive performance of the season versus Tarbor as it knocked down 48.1 percent of its shots from the floor and tied a season-low with eight turnovers to 19 assists. The Bears also grabbed a season-high total of 54 rebounds. Tabor was held to 32.8 percent shooting and never held a lead. Paul Garnica led the team with 15 points in 16 minutes while Tim Huskisson netted 14 points. The Bears are led by sophomore guard Tevin Svihovec, who is averaging 11.1 ppg. Tate Unruh, Derrick Barden, Garnica, and Huskisson are all scoring more than nine per game as well.
North Dakota's conference debut was not ideal as it trailed for nearly the entire came and was unable to climb on top due to a 30 percent accuracy rate from the field. SUU made 47.5 percent of its field goal attempts and fended off a late rally by making nine free throws in the final minute. Mitch Wilmer registered a double-double with 15 points and 11 boards while Aaron Anderson tallied a team-high 16 points. Anderson is the team's top scorer with 11.5 ppg and Josh Schuler is providing 10 ppg.
Both these teams have a long way to go before they will be competing for league titles. Although UND has the homecourt advantage in this one, the Bears are a much more balanced team which gives them a slight edge.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northern Colorado 70, North Dakota 66
12/21 10:36:32 ET