The Northern Arizona Lumberjacks and Southern Utah Thunderbirds converge on Centrum Arena Utah for a mid-major matchup in the Big Sky. Northern Arizona are looking to finish off the season strong after going through some tough times in 2020-21. They head into Utah with a record of 5-13 and 4-8 in the Big Sky.
The Idaho Vandals, who are one of the worst teams in the country going winless in 19 attempts, is the only team trailing the Lumberjacks in the conference. Northern Arizona has to throw this season in the toilet and look towards next season. It’s been a disappointing season for Northern Arizona, who had a couple of returning guards on their roster.
A 96-53 loss against the Arizona Wildcats to open the year set the tone for the rest of the season. That loss turned into a five-game losing streak for the Lumberjacks. They have zero excuses to be playing this poorly. Northern Arizona has a clean injury report, and returned a bit of talent from last year.
We do know that Northern Arizona will avoid finishing dead last in the Big Sky, so that’s the good news. They’re coming off two bad losses against Weber State by a score of 92-59 and 74-52. This is their last opportunity to play good basketball. Following this two-game series against Southern Utah, Northern Arizona will be done with their season.
Southern Utah still has four more games left on their schedule, with two against Northern Arizona, and then two against Portland State to close out the regular season. They will be going to the Big Sky Tournament, but which seed remains to be seen. The Thunderbirds go into this contest with an overall record of 15-3 and 8-2 in the conference to trail only Eastern Washington.
The Thunderbirds are more than capable of winning the Big Sky and advancing to the NCAA Tournament. They’re on a five-game winning streak entering, including most recently a beatdown of Sacramento State, 88-69 and 77-57. If Northern Arizona isn’t interested in playing defense tonight, then Southern Utah can run up the scoreboard in a hurry. Head below for our free Northern Arizona vs. Southern Utah pick on February 24, 2021.
Northern Arizona Lumberjacks vs. Southern Utah Thunderbirds NCAA Betting Odds:
Northern Arizona vs. Southern Utah Prediction:
Northern Arizona needs to be in better form than they have been recently. It’s been a major struggle for them throughout the season, and from their effort as of late, it appears that they’ve tapped out on the season. Through their previous five outings, Northern Arizona has been in bad shape with only 56.6 points scored per game.
Their defense has been average enough, with 70 points allowed per game through that stretch. Northern Arizona might be able to contain the Southern Utah offense to an extent, but likely not enough for their offense to keep up on the road.
Note that the Thunderbirds are sixth in the country with 85.3 points scored per contest and at home, the points keep coming with 88 points scored per game. During their last five outings, the Thunderbirds have lit up the scoreboard at a clip of 92.2 points per game. How does Northern Arizona stay within reach of Southern Utah?
I think it’s going to require the Thunderbirds having a rare off night from the field, or they don’t take the Lumberjacks seriously. It’s not an impossible scenario that Southern Utah looks at Northern Arizona and decides to gear down instead of laying it on. That said, it’s going to require a way better than average shooting performance from Northern Arizona. The Lumberjacks are 336th in the NCAA with just 61.7 points scored per game.
Southern Utah enjoys a massive rebounding advantage in this game. They’re recording 37.5 rebounds per game for tenth in the country, while Northern Arizona is getting destroyed on the boards, with only 26.7 rebounds per game for 339th. This looks like a mismatch, and the fact Southern Utah is only a 13-point favorite comes as a bit of a surprise. I’d have the Thunderbirds at -17 at home in this contest. A 83-65 win for Southern Utah looks within reach.