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Meet Montana, flawed but capable of living well by the three-ball

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

How to watch or listen to the game

Tip time: 6 p.m. ET, Friday, Nov. 18

TV: CBS Sports Network

Online streaming[shrug]

Radio: Wolfpack Sports Network (affiliates)

Montana vitals

Record: 0-2
Pomeroy ranking: 172
Best win***: n/a
Worst loss: 73-72 defeat to Wyoming (No. 195 in Pomeroy Ratings)

(***Based on opponent's Pomeroy Rating, not margin of victory.)

Adjusted tempo: 69.7 poss/40 minutes (ranks 318th)
Adjusted offensive efficiency: 102.6 (ranks 136th)
Adjusted defensive efficiency: 103.3 (ranks 214th)

Montana roster
Montana schedule
Montana stats 2016 2017

The Montana offense and starters

Montana Offense -- Four Factors eFG% (National Rank) TO% OR% FT Rate
2015-16 53.4 (43) 18.3 (194) 28.3 (217) 36.8 (175)
2016-17 50.0 (143) 19.7 (194) 26.2 (232) 30.9 (227)

NC State will begin the Paradise Jam against the Montana Grizzlies, who don't earn much attention but have been pretty good over the last half decade. Montana has won at least 20 games in six of the last seven seasons, earning three NCAA tournament trips in that time. The Grizz are coming off a 21-12 (14-4) campaign and have brought back a significant chunk of the production from that team.

Still, there's a glaring absence: forward Martin Breunig, who paced Montana's offense with 19 points and 9 boards per game, has been lost to graduation. (Time: the enemy of coaches everywhere!) Among other things, Breunig scored with incredible efficiency in the paint, making him a perfect leading piece for a group that liked to shoot a lot of threes.

The Grizzlies are still shooting a lot of threes, but they've stumbled early as they try to figure out how to best operate without Breunig. Injuries haven't helped, either--guard Michael Oguine, who was third on the team in scoring last season, has yet to play this year thanks to a wrist injury.

This should end up being a decent team in the Big Sky (KenPom projects an 11-7 conference record), but as with a lot of teams in the first month of the season, a lot remains unclear or unsolved. Some tendencies with this program have transcended coaching changes (Wayne Tinkle left for Oregon State following the 2014 season. Hee hee, tinkle.): poor offensive rebounding, frequent three-point shooting, above-average three-point accuracy, and a slow pace of play.

The Grizz probably aren't going to want to get out and run on the Wolfpack and probably will not collect many of their missed shots, but they will present multiple three-point threats who figure to test NC State's perimeter defense.


Walter Wright (5-10, 161) -- I read this guy's as "Walter White" at first glance and have been unable to shake this since then. Heisenberg here was second on the team in scoring last season, though he is off to a terrible start to his senior season. He hit 37.2% of his threes in 2016 but is off to an 0-6 start to 2017. Hey, if you cook from distance long enough, the feds are gonna get involved, man.

Ahmaad Rorie (6-1, 175) -- Rorie was a decent role player as a freshman at Oregon in 2015 but appears intent on being one of the primary scorers at his new school. His workload is way up, and through two games he leads the Grizzlies in scoring.

Jack Lopez (6-5, 208) -- A four-year college player with a pretty short track record. He doesn't play a ton of minutes and his workload has always been light. (Think Lennard Freeman in terms of how often Lopez shoots the ball.) He was an exceptional three-point shooter (41-84) last season when he did bother to take a possession into his own hands, but it's difficult to interpret that within the larger context of his career. He attempted a grand total of 53 shots combined between his freshman and sophomore seasons before having something of a breakout in 2016.

Bobby Moorehead (6-7, 182) -- Pretty textbook one-dimensional guy: hit 39.4% of his 109 three-point attempts in 2016, but attempted only 36 twos and 11 free throws. Like Lopez, he doesn't heave it up a bunch. (And that's not a knock--lots of dudes are limited as basketball players, and a lot of them play in denial. Moorehead isn't one of them.)

Fabijan Krslovic (6-8, 239) -- Pretty good offensive rebounder, decent scorer around the rim, though he is another one of this team's sporadic contributors offensively. Really low-usage guy. Not a three-point threat unless it is of the traditional variety.

The Montana bench and defense

Reserves: Mario Dunn (6-0, 185), Sayeed Pridgett (6-5, 195), Jared Samuelson (6-7, 213), Brandon Gfeller (6-4, 189).

In 3+ seasons, Gfeller has attempted 399 threes and 52 two-pointers. Guess what you can expect from him! Career 38% three-point shooter.

Dunn is fascinating because he profiles as a forward in some ways: decent defensive rebounder (especially for his size) who is a career 55% shooter inside the arc. He's not going to carry the offense, but he might be the most versatile player in this rotation.

Samuelson, a freshman, has taken 15 shots in 36 minutes this season. Go on and get those shots up, son.

Montana Defense -- Four Factors eFG% (National Rank) TO% OR% FT Rate
2015-16 49.5 (149) 18.7 (135) 24.9 (13) 45.3 (326)
2016-17 47.6 (138) 19.0 (177) 32.4 (209) 62.5 (309)

The Grizzlies have been exceptionally foul-prone in each of the last three seasons, which leaves a clear approach for NC State's offense: get into the paint and force the issue. Montana works around its lack of traditional size in the usual ways, and State needs to be ready to attack that from the jump.

To Montana's credit, it's been a good defensive rebounding team over the last couple of years, which is a pretty solid accomplishment for a program without a lot of big reboundy guys. Good coaching.

Best case for Montana at this end is shutting down the boards and forcing a decent number of turnovers. The Grizzlies are otherwise not much to worry about defensively. NC State just has to be careful that it doesn't end up settling for too many three-point attempts.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes State by 10.