So, here we are. For the third time in four seasons, and for Jaret Von Rosenberg’s first season, the Lions are back in the NCAA DII Dance. The South Central Regional is being played in Canyon on the campus of West Texas A&M as top ranked regional seeds get to host. The Lions got probably the most even matchup in the bracket, so let’s take a look at their opponent, RMAC power Fort Lewis College.
- FLC is 24-6 overall and made it to the finals of the RMAC Championship game. They have strong records both on the road and at home. Canyon is not a terribly long drive so one might think they would feel somewhat at home. Their 18-4 conference record is also nothing to scoff at either, as their conference put in 3 teams into the national tournament.
- The Skyhawks have made the tournament for 3 straight seasons as well. They consistently average around 20-22 wins per year and have strong showings in their conference tournaments also. Something also to compare to are two common opponents, Western and Eastern New Mexico. The Hawks won one and lost the other, knocking off the Mustangs by 7 and losing to Eastern by 1/ The Lions did somewhat of a dichotomous thing by splitting Eastern and beating Western NM both times. Should make you feel somewhat confident.
- FLC averages 87 points per game, which should scare most teams, but they give up 77 on average as well. The Lions on the other hand, average 76 points scored per game and give up 68 per game. The name of the game will again be defense. If Von Rosenberg and crew can keep FLC below 70, I see the Lions taking this one.
- Rasmus Bach is the leading scorer for the Hawks leading with an average of 15 points per game, and in my view, their best player and biggest threat. A 6’4 Senior Guard, Bach is the real deal. Has the raw size to power over guards that are smaller than he is, but also has the ability to make good spot up shots and can certainly pose a matchup problem for anyone he faces.
- As I said earlier, this game is going to hinge on one thing, and that is how well the Lions defend the high scoring Skyhawks. If they play good tough defense, I do not see Fort Lewis beating the Lions unless the Lions end up being absolutely dismal from field goal range (which can happen). However, the aggressive offensive play and strong cross court transition play for the Lions could really make this a plum ripe for picking. Finally, the largest factor I can see is the Lions have a tremendous size advantage against Fort Lewis in both height and weight. If the Lions throw that around, then I expect a second round matchup against West Texas A&M the day after.