by Zachary Knecht
Featured Image: Photo by Weber State Athletics
Weber State Idaho Preview
The Weber State Wildcats are back on the road after a two-game home stand to play the Idaho Vandals Thursday night. The ‘Cats are coming off back-to-back wins on their home court, while Idaho dropped their previous game on the road.
Weber State enters play 10-10 and third in the Big Sky with their 5-2 conference record, while the Vandals sport a mediocre 8-13 record, including a poor 2-6 in the conference.
Although ESPN Analytics have the Wildcats as underdogs with a 38.4% chance to win, they are favored by 2.5 points on the road. The over/under for the game stands at 138.
Who to Watch
Anyone on this Wildcat roster can come up big for their team, especially on the road when they need it, but it is the consistent play of Dillon Jones and Steven Verplancken Jr. that has been a vital reason for Weber State’s success.
This matchup is pretty even between the two rosters, especially in terms of rebounding, so Jones’ success in asserting his dominance on the floor will play a major part in the result of this contest. Jones has been the source of Weber State’s rebounding game with his 10.9 rebounds per game and has been able to utterly dominate the floor more than a couple of times this season. Look for him to continue this dominance Thursday.
Verplancken Jr. is – shot-wise – the Wildcats’ primary scoring option. He has taken the most shots on the team from the field and three, and his ability to find his rhythm against this bottom-tier Big Sky defense will set the tone in this contest. Though Jones is the point leader for the roster with 15.1 PPG, Verplancken Jr. is more than an important cog in Weber State’s machine.
The Vandals’ duo of Isaac Jones and Divant’e Moffitt has also done more than impress this season. With their combined 37.1 PPG, they are the soul of Idaho’s offensive effort. If the duo gets going, it may be a long night for the ‘Cats.
Though Idaho is number two in the conference in offense (75.9 PPG), their stats are very deceiving. Excluding two games on the year they played against non-division I opponents, the Vandals sport a 70.9 PPG, which is not anything to scoff at, but much more even to Weber State’s 66.2 PPG.
The Wildcats have the second-ranked defense in the Big Sky and will need to assert themselves early and often in a tough road contest.
The biggest discrepancy the ‘Cats face in this one is in the shooting. Weber State hits 43.9% of their shots, including 34% from range, while the Vandals hit a whopping 48.2% from the field and 35.4% from three. But when the ‘Cats are hot, they can play with anyone in the conference. They need to take advantage of Idaho’s seventh-ranked conference defense that allows opponents to hit 46% of their shots. Weber State has a roster full of scorers and players who can take advantage of this.
The Wildcats will play the Vandals in the ICCU Arena Thursday at 7 pm MST.
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