Eastern Washington Eagles (20-14) at Utah Valley Wolverines (22-10)
When and Where: Tuesday, March 13, Orem, Utah 9 P.M. ET
The Eastern Washington Eagles are visiting the UCCU Center to face the Utah Valley Wolverines in the first round of the CBI, and the winner will get to play against the Colgate Raiders or San Francisco Dons. The Wolverines are considered as favorites, mainly because they are playing on home court, but it’s not going to be easy with the Eagles who have been excellent lately.
The Eagles’ eight-game winning streak ended with a loss to Montana
Eastern Washington was in a fantastic run of eight consecutive victories and reached the Big Sky tournament finals where the Montana Grizzlies beat them, and deservedly won the conference considering they were the best team in the regular par as well. The Eagles were up by 11 points at halftime, but the Grizzlies rallied past them with an excellent defense and outscored Eastern Washington, 53-25 to secure a comfortable, 82-65 win. Shantay Legans’ side had 45% from the field and made nine out of 24 attempts from the perimeter (37.5%).
Jacob Davison led Eastern Washington with 16 points and seven rebounds; Bogdan Bliznyuk added 15 points, seven boards, and four assists, while Mason Peatling contributed with 15 points and four rebounds. Bliznyuk is the team’s top scorer with 21.0 ppg, 6.8 rpg, and 3.9 apg, and is the only player in the squad who averages double digits, so he’s a natural choice for a man to watch here. The Eagles are scoring 75.1 points per contest on average (139th), while they are allowing 71.6 points in return (155th).
The Wolverines are looking to bounce back from a big defeat to Grand Canyon
Utah Valley was the No. 2 seeded team in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament, but the Grand Canyon Antelopes prevented them from reaching the finals with a 75-60 victory. The Wolverines were down by 14 points at intermission, and although improved in the second half, it wasn’t nearly enough to make a comeback or get closer to the Antelopes. Mark Pope’s side wasn’t accurate from the field (35.5%) and hit just three triples on 19 attempts (15.8%), while they were inferior in rebounds (36-46) and assists (6-13).
Akolda Manyang led Utah Valley with a double-double of 18 points and 12 boards, along with game-high three rejections; Kenneth Ogbe chipped in with 12 points, five rebounds, and a couple of steals, while Brandon Randolph scored ten points. Ogbe is the team’s leading scorer with 13.2 ppg and 3.3 rpg; Manyang has 13.0 ppg, 7.9 rpg, and 2.3 bpg, Conner Toolson averages 12.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg, and 1.6 spg, while Jake Toolson contributes with 11.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg, and 3.0 apg. The Wolverines are scoring 78.0 points per contest on average (71st), while they are allowing 67.7 points in return (55th).
- 6-8 ATS as an underdog
- 5-6 ATS as an away underdog
- 2-3 ATS with 2-3 days off
- 4-0 ATS in their last four matches following an ATS loss
- 5-1 ATS in their last six non-conference games
- 4-1-2 ATS in their last seven matches following a straight-up loss
- 5-2 ATS in their last seven matches vs. an opponent with a winning record
- 7-3-1 ATS in their last 11 matches in total
These two rivals haven’t met this season and although the Eagles are in a better form at the moment, the Wolverines will be playing in front of their own crowd, which is a big advantage in this kind of matches. That is the biggest reason why I am backing the Utah Valley, but the tilt will likely be well-balanced and narrow one, so it could go either way.