With its postseason fate resting squarely on the outcome of its three remaining Big Sky Conference games, the Eastern Washington men’s basketball team will be forced to turn its attention away from what matters most tonight and focus on its nonconference matchup against Cal State Northridge that tips off at 7 at Reese Court.
Eastern (8-17) and Northridge (10-16), from the Big West Conference, will meet as part of ESPN’s annual BracketBusters weekend, which also has Idaho (14-11) traveling to Bozeman this evening to take on Montana State (11-15) in another nonconference game that tips at 6 in Worthington Arena.
EWU and Montana State are tied for fifth place in the BSC standings at 5-8, a game ahead of Idaho State and Sacramento State, both 4-9, and locked in a fierce battle to earn one of the six berths in their conference tournament.
The Eagles entertain the Bobcats in Cheney on Thursday, but had to delay preparations for that key showdown to concentrate on a CSUN team that features the one-two scoring punch of Lenny Daniel and Rashaun McLemore, who are averaging a combined 31 points a game for the Matadors.
Northridge suffered a 72-49 setback at Cal Poly on Wednesday – the same night EWU lost 83-74 at Northern Arizona – and comes in having lost three in a row.
Eastern has four players, led by sophomore guard Glen Dean (14.0 ppg), averaging at least 10 points per game.
Idaho, which fell to Western Athletic Conference rival Boise State 69-63 in Boise last Saturday, will be playing its first game in seven days against MSU. The Vandals are paced by Jeff Ledbetter (11.8 ppg) and Kyle Barone (10.9) ppg, while MSU – which has lost eight straight – is getting a combined 30.2 points per game from Erik Rush and Bobby Howard.