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Montana Grizzlies vs. North Dakota - 3/8/18 College Basketball Pick, Odds, and Prediction

North Dakota Fighting Hawks (12-19) at Montana Grizzlies (23-7)

College Basketball: Thursday, March 8, 2018 at 3:05 pm (Reno Events Center)

The Line: Montana Grizzlies -11.5 -- Over/Under: See the Latest Odds

TV: E Sports Network

The North Dakota Fighting Hawks and Montana Grizzlies will square off at the Reno Events Center this Thursday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the Big Sky Men’s Championship.

The 8-seed North Dakota Fighting Hawks improved to 12-19 (6-12 Big Sky) on the season after defeating the Montana State Bobcats, 76-74, this past Tuesday in the 1st round of the Big Sky Men’s Championship. North Dakota trailed by a 59-42 margin with 12:18 left in the 2nd half however, was able to fight back and took the lead for good when Kienan Walter made the go-ahead layup with just :06 seconds left in regulation. North Dakota shot 46.6% from the field and 47.6% (10-21) from beyond the arc in the victory. Leading the way for the Fighting Hawks was Marlon Stewart who had 29 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals. On the season, North Dakota is averaging 75.8 ppg on 45.9% shooting from the field. The Fighting Hawks are averaging 7.2 three-pointers per game on 33.7% shooting from beyond the arc. Offensively, North Dakota has been led by Geno Grandall (16.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.5 apg, 2.0 spg), Marlon Stewart (11.8 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 3.0 apg, 1.4 spg), Conner Avants (11.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg), and Dale Jones (11.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.1 apg). Defensively, North Dakota is allowing their opponents to average 81.5 ppg on 49.0% shooting from the field. The Fighting Hawks have a rebound margin of -6.5 and a turnover margin of 1.7.

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Montana Grizzlies vs. North Dakota - 3/8/18 College Basketball Pick, Odds, and Prediction

USA TODAY Sports

The Montana Grizzlies finished their season with an overall record of 23-7 and earned the top-seed in the Big Sky Men’s Championship after finishing conference play with a 16-2 record. Montana took control of the conference early this season after reeling off 13 straight wins to start conference play and although they couldn’t pick of a signature non-conference win, the Grizzlies did play both Penn State and Washington tough on the road. Montana has been a balanced team this season as the Grizzlies currently rank 82nd in scoring offense and 61st in scoring defense. On the season, Montana is averaging 77.4 ppg on 46.7% shooting from the field. The Grizzlies are averaging 5.5 three-pointers per game on 33.1% shooting from beyond the arc. Offensviely, Montana has been led by Ahmaad Rorie (16.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.7 apg, 1.3 spg), Michael Oguine (15.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.4 spg), Jamar Akoh (13.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.1 apg), and Bobby Moorehead (7.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.3 apg, 1.3 spg). Defensively, Montana is holding their opponents to an average of 67.9 ppg on 42.3% shooting from the field. The Grizzlies have a rebound margin of 4.7 and a turnover margin of 3.1.

The Fighting Hawks are 6-1-1 ATS in their last 8 neutral site games and 21-8-1 ATS in their last 30 games following an ATS win. The Grizzlies are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 Thursday games and 17-5-1 ATS in their last 23 games overall.

Montana won both matchups against North Dakota this season as the Montana won by a 109-79 margin at home in early January while winning a closer 72-67 battle on the road in early February.

North Dakota used their a solid defense effort in the 2nd half to fight back to get their recent victory over Montana State, however, the Fighting Hawks have generally had to rely on their offense outscoring opponents this season as they rank just 335th in scoring defense and 342nd in defensive FG%. Montana has been exceptional on both sides of the  ball this season and between the fact that I just don’t see how North Dakota will slow down the Grizzlies offense and that Montana should have a big advantage on the boards, I’m taking Montana to cover this large spread.

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