Portland State has had a much better season this year than last year. If Saturday’s game against the Weber State Wildcats is a win, the Vikings could find themselves in one of the conference’s top six spots. In which case, the Vikings will have the opportunity to play in the Big Sky post-season tournament.
How will Weber State and Portland State match up? There is a potential for a physical match-up between Weber State and Portland State. Both teams are the top two rebounding (+5.8/+3.1 respectively) and defensive teams (66.3/66.1 respectively) in the Big Sky Conference.
Both schools are ranked in the bottom two slots for Big Sky scoring offense; WSU (68.1 per game) is seventh, and PSU (67.5) is eighth. Both teams are atop the Big Sky in scoring offense. WSU leads averaging 66.2 points per game, and PSU is second averaging 66.9 points per game. For assists, the Wildcats are ranked sixth (12.4), and the Vikings are ranked eighth (11.9). Their places are flipped when it comes to steals, where Weber State is eighth (4.96) and Portland State is sixth (6.21).
Portland State is up against Wildcat Slobodan Ocokoljic who is ranked fifth (14.8) in the Big Sky for scoring, third (6.8) for rebounding, and seventh (1.30) for steals. Ocokoljic was a first team All-Big Sky player and Newcomer last season. This year he leads his team in scoring (15.7) and rebounding (7.2). Nic Sparrow is another top-notch player for Weber State.
Ranking sixth in the Big Sky for field goal percentage at 51 percent, Sparrow is a strong shooter. Sparrow shot 43 percent from the three-point range, and averages 11.3 points per game. Sparrow is another All-Big Sky player who will stir things up against the Vikings on Saturday.
Of course, the Vikings have their own set of Big Sky leaders. Junior Blake Walker’s 15.6-point average game has led him to fourth place in the Big Sky for scoring. Walker has bounced between sixth and fourth place over the course of conference play, and he is currently in fourth place for rebounding (6.2). Junior Seamus Boxley is still ranked seventh in Big Sky scoring (14.5) and Boxley has led the Big Sky in rebounding (9.4) all season. Juniors Antone Jarrell and Will Funn have improved over the season and both have moved up in Big Sky rankings. Jarrell is currently tenth in both field goal percentage (.474) and steals (1.17). Funn has been ranked fourth (4.00) in the Big Sky for assists for most of the season. Funn recently had two high-scoring games where he played smart basketball and really showed his skill.
Saturday will be the last season conference game for the Vikings this year.
Depending on Thursday’s outcome against Idaho State, a win against Weber State could be the determining factor in whether the Vikings make the postseason. If the Vikings win both games they will be guaranteed a spot. They will need to play tough, smart and keep up the teamwork on Saturday.