Montana State Bobcats guard Eddie Turner III drives to the basket during the second half against the Montana Grizzlies at Idaho Central Arena. [Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports]

Montana State, Grambling State Face Off In First Four Matchup

March Madness is officially upon us, as the Montana State Bobcats and Grambling State Tigers face off in a NCAA First Four matchup at 6:40 p.m. today from UD Arena in Dayton, Ohio.

Both teams come off conference championships and look to break into the round of 64.

For Montana State (17-17), this is its 13th NCAA Tournament appearance and first since 2019.

For Grambling State (20-14), it was just one of two SWAC men’s basketball teams to never advance to March Madness before this year. Its conference championship victory removes it from being one of just three SWAC teams to never to win the league tournament title.

How They Matchup

Montana State has averaged 75.1 points per game on the year, with a 46% field-goal percentage and shot 36% from 3. It has a negative 4.4 rebound differential compared to the opponent, a positive two turnover margin and average 8.2 steals a game.

Grambling State averaged 67.6 points per game, shooting 44% from the field and 33% from 3. GSU has a negative one rebound differential, negative .5 turnover margin and average 7.4 steals a game.

Who To Look For

Both teams come into the matchup led by strong guard play.

For Grambling State, Guard Kintavious Dozier leads the team with 13.1 ppg, while only playing the fourth highest minutes on average. He makes up half of a strong guard duo with Tra’Michael Moton, who averages 11.8 ppg and leads the team with an average of 2.6 assists. Forward Antwan Burnett leads the team in average minutes played, 32.8, and averages 10.1 points along with 6.1 rebounds.


On the Montana States side, guard Robert Ford III leads the team in scoring, rebounds, assists and steals. His 100 steals are the most in MSU history. Forwards Brian Goracke and Brandon Walker fill the frontcourt, both averaging over 13 ppg and around four rebounds. Walker only averages around 20 minutes per game, yet is third on the team in scoring and rebounds per game.

Both teams prepare to battle it out, with coverage on truTV and the winner will be the No. 16 seed in the Midwest Region and face No. 1 seed Purdue in the round of 64 Friday night in Indianapolis.



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