Hoooo boy. Undefeated Northwest Missouri State vs. our little Point Loma.
Name: Northwest Missouri State.
Colors: Green & White
Student Population: About 6,000.
They’re not actually as big as we were thinking they were; we figured they were your typical 15-20K directional school ala WWU.
They’re also not as nearby as we thought; it’s about an eight hour drive from their campus to the Evansville location.
The question is… Can Point Loma win against this undefeated team?
And the answer is yes. The Bearcats have only played four ranked teams and so we don’t feel like they’ve been particularly well tested. While they recorded a blow-out over Saint Anselm in the Final Four, they barely got by 8th seeded Mercyhurst in the Elite Eight, winning by a mere four.
But what are the numbers like? What do the numbers say about Northwest Missouri State?
They basically have five starters, an iffy sixth man, and little else.
Joey Withus is their leading scorer and overall leader. He’s a 6’7/220lb senior and their leading scorer at 21 points per game. He averages about 34 minutes, and then four rebounds and a few assists per game. Shoots 85% from the free throw line. Good luck Daulton.
Ryan Hawkins is a 6’7/220lb sophomore forward. He averages 34 minutes per game along with 14 points, nine rebounds, and almost two steals per game. He shoots 93% from the line, and so whatever you do: Do. Not. Foul him. Good luck Ziggy.
Trevor Hudgins is 6’0/180lb redshirt frosh that also averages 34 minutes per game. He’s a monster of dropping dimes, averaging 5.1 assists in addition to scoring a whopping 19 points per game.
Ryan Welty is a 6’8/190 twig of a junior post player. He averages 34 minutes, eight points, and five rebounds. Defense is more his thing. 75% free throw shooter, so beware. Good luck Preston.
Diego Bernard is a 6’0/170lb frosh and where the drop-off starts to happen. He averages 27 minutes a game while scoring 12 points and grabbing five boards. 74% free throw shooter.
Kirk Finley is their 6’4/170lb sixth man. He’s a junior, averages 17 minutes per game with minimal stats but we’re guessing more than passable defense.
Their five starters combine to average 74 points per game, while their bench combines to average about six points per game.
PLNU’s five starters combine to average 60 points per game, while our bench combines to average about 19 points per game.
That gives us a final average score of 80-79 in favor of the Bearcats, and thus despite Northwest Missouri State’s undefeated record: Point Loma should be able to go toe-to-toe with them. Rebounding wise PLNU holds the edge at 30-28, so again: evenly matched.
Official prediction: Pick ’em.
The keys to the game are going to be in avoiding fouling at all costs, and hopefully luring them into fouls. The thing is, foul trouble doesn’t matter with these guys; their Big Four play tons of 40 minute games, and so unless you get them to pick up that fifth foul, it doesn’t matter, their coach is fully aware they can’t come out. Basically the only guy they can risk taking out is Diego.
We like Point Loma’s depth a lot. Fresher legs are always a good thing. We also like the match-up size-wise. They have some big boys and we have some big boys, but… Honestly: We trust our bench. We trust our bench a lot. Yes, the last game was a bit rough, but Southern Indiana is a good team. We also feel like Queens was great preparation for this game, considering Shaun Willett played 39 minutes.
Wear them down. It’s going to be tough, no doubt, but… IT’S THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME. Both teams are fantastic, and that’s a great thing.
We’ll be live tweeting. Again: If you live in western Washington, it’s on Kiro 7.
If you don’t have access to the broadcast (not sure if it’s national): Northwest Missouri State has a radio stream! Which can be listened to here.
All that said… This game is gonna be nuts and we can’t wait!
Go Sea Lions!!