On Wednesday night, the NCAA Tournament automatic bid from the Big Sky Tournament will be awarded to the winner of its championship game. The Montana State Bobcats are a favorite against the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks, who could become a historic entrant into the Big Dance with just one more win. Here, we make our college basketball predictions for Northern Arizona vs Montana State in the Big Sky final.
Northern Arizona vs Montana State Betting Pick
|ℹ️ The Pick:||Northern Arizona +7.5|
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This game will be played at Idaho Central Arena at 11:30 PM ET on Wednesday, March 8, 2023.
Why Bet on Northern Arizona:
✅ Yes, Montana State is the superior team in this Big Sky final matchup. But Northern Arizona ranks second in the Big Sky in three-point shooting percentage, and that will help keep this game close, as the Lumberjacks will cover the spread.
✅ Northern Arizona has already taken down the top seed in this tournament, as they beat Eastern Washington in a thrilling 81-80 affair. They have proven that they can beat the best teams in their conference this week.
✅ Montana State won both of the games between these teams in the regular season. However, Northern Arizona kept their road game against the Bobcats within just one point.
Northern Arizona Lumberjacks: Looking to Cut Down Nets, Not Trees
Going into the Big Sky Tournament, there would have been a long list of teams to back to win the tournament over the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks. But the ninth place team out of 10 teams in the conference has been excellent this week in Idaho. They are now just one win away from qualifying for the NCAA Tournament as the Big Sky Tournament champion.
The offense of Northern Arizona has been electric in this tournament, averaging 83.7 points per game in their three conference tournament triumphs. With all of the momentum they have generated so far, it is entirely possible that the Lumberjacks can shoot their way to a tournament title all the way from the basement of this conference.
Montana State Bobcats: Can Favorites Avoid Big Upset In Big Sky Final?
While Northern Arizona enters this Big Sky final as a plucky underdog, Montana State has taken care of business as a favorite so far. They beat Northern Colorado in the quarterfinal round of this tournament, and won a double overtime game against Weber State in the semifinals. Now, the Bobcats just need to beat the lowest seeded team they have faced at this event so far in order to secure their berth in the Big Dance.
Montana State has won seven games in a row going into this conference final, and their defense could be a big difference maker on Wednesday night. They allow 66.3 points per game on the season, 8.1 points per game less than the Lumberjacks. Defending the three will be especially important against a team that has been so good from the perimeter in this tournament, as NAU has made at least 10 threes in two of their three games at this tournament.
Losing Teams Making NCAA Tournament
Northern Arizona comes into this game with an overall record of 12-22. If they make it to the NCAA Tournament by winning this game, they would become the team with the most losses to ever make the tournament field. There have been teams with fewer wins to get into the tournament, as there have been several teams with 11 wins that have earned their way into the field, but this would still be an historic achievement.
It could also spark debate as to whether or not conference tournaments should continue to function as they are now. Many have argued that these tournaments render the regular season irrelevant, especially in one-bid leagues. But they are undeniably a lot of fun, and give every team hope into the month of March that they could do something special.