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Montana State vs. Grambling Expert Pick and Prediction – March 20, 2024

Montana State vs. Grambling Expert Pick and Prediction – March 20, 2024 

MONTANA STATE VS. GRAMBLING EXPERT PICK AND PREDICTION – March 20, 2024 — For the first time in school history, the Grambling Tigers are in the NCAA Tournament. However, this might be a short stay for them, given that they haven’t beaten anyone outside of the SWAC all season. Grambling managed 20 wins on the year, but 17 were over SWAC opponents and the other three were non-Division I schools. Outside of SWAC play, the only game all year where the Tigers came within 10 points was Southeastern Louisiana, which ranked 303rd nationally.

Part of that was by design, as Grambling and other SWAC schools routinely schedule difficult non-conference schedules to collect paychecks to fund the rest of the school’s athletic endeavors. But Montana State also plays a fair amount of buy games, and the Bobcats were able to pick up some wins out of the Big Sky. Montana State is actually making its third consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament, going out as a No. 14 seed in each of the past two seasons.

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However, this Montana State squad bares little resemblance to the one that gamely fought Kansas State to a 12-point loss last year. These Bobcats had to rebuild the entire roster after Danny Sprinkle left for Utah State and restocked his new team with two members from Montana State and more.

As with most Big Sky teams, Montana State’s still a strong 3-point shooting team. That might make all the difference, because Grambling’s perimeter defense isn’t strong enough to deny a team that can shoot.

The Odds 






Montana State

(17-17 SU, 16-15 ATS) 






(20-14 SU, 17-14 ATS) 






When: Wednesday, March 20 at 6:40 p.m. EST 

Where: University of Dayton Arena, Dayton, Ohio

TV: truTV

Public Bets: Unavailable 

Public Money: Unavailable

Odds courtesy of DraftKings, as of March 18th, 2024

Montana State vs. Grambling In-Season Trends 

Grambling got hot down the stretch in SWAC play, winning nine of its final 11 games and going 7-4 ATS before closing out with three more wins and covers in the SWAC tournament. The Tigers handled things well in league play, but when they ventured out of conference early in the season, things didn’t go very well.

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Part of that was because of a schedule that included tournament teams Washington State, Florida, Dayton, Drake, Iowa State and Colorado, but the Tigers still went 3-6 ATS outside of the league. And of their three non-league covers, all of them came around finals week, meaning the Tigers were mostly facing distracted teams and small crowds.

Montana State has covered in five of its past six games, including the Big Sky title game where the Bobcats finally solved Montana. Over the Bobcats’ past eight games, they’ve covered in all six against teams not named Sacramento State. The Hornets have been the one team able to slow Montana State down as of late. The Bobcats have gotten to 75 or more in four of their past five games with that as the exception.

The Difference-Makers 

Robert Ford III found the rims to his liking in Boise, hitting over 40% from behind the arc in all three games at the Big Sky tournament. His worst overall field goal percentage was 54.5% against Sacramento State. If he keeps up his shooting, it’s going to be virtually impossible for Grambling to keep up.

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None of the Tigers are good shooters, but their big edge comes from creating turnovers against the Bobcats. Tra’Michael Moton is both Grambling’s best ball thief and most common ball-handler. If he’s creating mistakes at the other end, the Tigers will have a shot. If he’s giving the ball away to the Bobcats, the Tigers will lose by 20.

The Pick 

Grambling making its first NCAA tournament appearance is a great story. But the Tigers don’t defend anywhere near well enough to expect to last very long. The Tigers aren’t great shooters and end too many possessions without a shot. They also really struggle to get out on opposing shooters.

The last of those is the most damning. Montana State can shoot the 3 regularly and get the ball inside. The Bobcats aren’t good on the glass on most nights, but they do make most of their shots in the paint. The Tigers, conversely, don’t hit very often inside 22 feet unless they’ve forced a turnover.

The line’s too small for this gulf in play styles. The Bobcats should be the team that gets a shot at Purdue. 

Dan’s Picks 

 Montana State -3.5  

 Over 134.5 


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