January 15, 2010

Men's basketball can kill some ghosts this weekend in Pacific Northwest

RELATED CLICKS:
Northern Colorado notes | Big Sky Conference notes | Portland State notes | Eastern Washington notes

PORTLAND, Ore. -- There's a lot of "bad" to focus on when considering Northern Colorado's annual men's basketball road trip this weekend to Portland State and Eastern Washington.

For starters, the Bears (15-3, 4-1 Big Sky) are 0-6 on this trip since joining the Big Sky in 2006. Also, Northern Colorado is 0-10 all-time against Portland State.

And then there's the fact that this year this trip will be held in the back-to-back, Friday-Saturday format, with a gameday flight from Portland, Ore., to Spokane, Wash., thrown into the mix on Saturday to add to the difficulty.

But, here's the good news: Northern Colorado can make a huge statement with success this weekend and put itself in an absolutely enviable position as it nears the midway point in the Big Sky Conference title race.

Simply stated, if the Bears can take care of business this weekend against the Vikings (7-9, 2-2) and Eagles (6-11, 2-2) they'll be in great position to take a major step forward in this year's Big Sky Conference race.

Northern Colorado has already played exceptionally well through the season's first half -- they've already surpassed their win total from a year ago, they've won at least six games in a row two times already this season, and they're up to No. 12 in the latest CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll.

But they really haven't accomplished anything yet. In a year where the stakes are this high, the Bears' biggest game always seems to be the next game. And that starts tonight inside Portland State's cozy Peter W. Stott Center and continues tomorrow night on Eastern Washington's Reese Court.

If the Bears can focus and win where they never have -- against teams that, if nothing else, are always dangerous -- they'll be rewarded with a still-sparkling record and four straight home games to solidify their title-chase posititioning.

The Bears almost always play well enough to win on the road against the Vikings and Eagles -- they've lost by a combined total of five points in their last two games at Portland State -- but the "Ws" just haven't come.

Will they come this weekend? We're about to find out.

GAME DETAILS
Date: Friday, Jan. 15
Tip: 8:05 p.m. (MT)
Location: Portland, Ore.
Venue: Stott Center (1,500)
Radio: 1310 KFKA (Greeley)
Play-by-play: Troy Coverdale
Web stream: 1310kfka.com
Television: BigSkyTV.org
Play-by-play: Tom Hewitt
Analyst: N/A
Sideline: N/A
Live stats: www.goviks.com

THE GAME
The Bears are hot, but an “are they for real?” test awaits this weekend in the Pacific Northwest. First up is Portland State, which has earned the Big Sky’s last two NCAA Tournament berths.

THE SERIES
This will be the 10th meeting between Northern Colorado and Portland State. The Bears are 0-10 against the Vikings, 0-6 against them in league play and 0-5 against them on the road.

THE COACHES
Tad Boyle (46-61) is in his fourth year with Northern Colorado and fourth year overall as a head coach. Tyler Geving (7-9) is in his first year at PSU after assisting Ken Bone for four years.

GAME DETAILS
Date: Saturday, Jan. 16
Tip: 8:05 p.m. (MT)
Location: Cheney, Wash.
Venue: Reese Court (6,000)
Radio: 1310 KFKA (Greeley)
Play-by-play: Troy Coverdale
Web stream: 1310kfka.com
Television: BigSkyTV.org
Play-by-play: Tom Weir
Analyst: N/A
Sideline: N/A
Live stats: www.goeags.com

THE GAME
The Bears will face a quick turnaround Saturday night in Cheney, Wash., where they will face the Eagles just 22 hours after their loss to Portland State. NC is 0-3 in Cheney in Big Sky games.

THE SERIES
This will be the eighth meeting between the Bears and E. Washington, with the first game coming during the 1971-72 season. Northern Colorado is 2-5 vs. EWU and 0-3 on the road.

THE COACHES
Tad Boyle (46-62) is in his fourth year with Northern Colorado and fourth year overall as a head coach. Kirk Earlywine (29-49) is in his third year at EWU and sixth year overall.