Syracuse will play Montana in the second round of the NCAA tournament in San Jose, Calif. Here is a scouting report for the game:
BIG SKY, BIG DREAMS: Montana head coach Wayne Tinkle, now in his seven season with the Grizzlies, has turned the program into the class of the Big Sky conference. He’s led the team to NCAA appearances in three of the last four years, and gave New Mexico a challenge in 2010 in the NCAA’s first round. This season, after going 4-4 to start, Montana lost just two games the rest of the way, finishing with a 25-6 overall mark, and a 19-1 record in the Big Sky. They got the automatic bid by hanging on against Weber State in the conference championship, 67-64, Saturday, to win the title a league-record ninth time. This is Montana’s 10th NCAA appearance and they have a 2-10 record all-time. Their last win came against Nevada in 2006, and their first win was against Utah State in the 1975 tourney.
SCOUTING THE GRIZZLIES: Kareem Jamar scored 20 points in Montana’s Big Sky Championship win, his second straight tournament MVP honor. He’s had an increased workload since leading scorer Mathias Ward went down with a season ending foot injury. Jamar is averaging 14.5 points and a team-high 6.0 rebounds. Montana has the ability to shoot over the zone, with five players shooting 36 percent from beyond the arc, or better. The Orange will also have a significant size advantage. Though Montana has 7-footer Andy Martin and 6-9 Eric Hutchison, neither play more than 15 minutes a game. The rest of the roster is 6-7 or below, and averages just 31.2 rebounds a game, 309th in the NCAA.
HISTORICALLY SPEAKING: This will be the first meeting between the two teams.
GAME INFORMATION: Thursday, March 21 at 9:57 p.m. in San Jose, Calif. TV: TruTV.