By ERIC TABER
It’s a new day, and a new season for the Montana Grizzlies men’s basketball team, who have accepted an invitation to compete in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) postseason tournament that sees the Griz head back to Reno to take on the Nevada Wolf Pack in the first round.
The Grizzlies (21-11, 14-4 BSC) and Wolf Pack (19-13, 10-8 MWC) renew an old Big Sky Conference rivalry on Wed., March 16, at the Lawlor Events Center on the University of Nevada campus. Tipoff from Reno is set for 7 p.m. PT (8 MT).
The game marks 10 years to the day since Montana last defeated Nevada in the first round of the NCAA Tournament 87-79 on March 16, 2006 in Salt Lake City, to pick up the program’s second win in the big dance.
COVERAGE: The Griz/Pack game can be seen live via webcast at NevadaWolfPack.tv. No TV broadcast is scheduled for the opening round of the CBI. ESPNU will broadcast the CBI Championship Series.
Links to the webcast, live stats, live Twitter feed, and radio webcast can be found at GoGriz.com. Fans can tune into the statewide radio broadcast to hear bonus Mick Holien Griz coverage, as he brings you the action from Reno on the Montana Radio Network.
SERIES HISTORY: Montana leads the all-time series with Nevada 23-16. The last two meetings between the schools came in 2010 and 2011, when the Griz and Wolf Pack played a home-and-home series. UNR won both of those meetings, 81-66 in UM’s 2010 season opener, and 70-64 in 2011’s return trip to Missoula. The two programs have split the last 10 meetings.
UP NEXT? Should the Griz pick up their third win in the last week in the city of Reno (UM went 2-1 at the Big Sky Conference tournament in “The Biggest Little City in the World”), Montana will face the winner of the Eastern Washington/Pepperdine CBI first round game.
GRIZ NOTES: Montana made one previous appearance in the CBI in 2011, when a Wayne Tinkle-led Griz hosted Duquesne in the first round of the tournament in Missoula, a game the Grizzlies lost 87-76. Duquesne would fall in the second round of the tourney to eventual champions Oregon 77-75.
Junior guard Walter Wright and senior forward Martin Breunig were both named to the Big Sky’s all-tournament team at the conference championship. Breunig was in the running for MVP of the tournament, averaging 22 points, nine rebounds and blocking six shots. Wright averaged 16.7 points and three rebounds while dishing out 16 assists.
Breunig is 13 points shy of completing the best single season ever for a two-year player at Montana, needing 617 total points this year to pass Anthony Johnson’s single season best. Breunig is currently on 604 points, the sixth-best scoring single season in Montana history.
In the final of the Big Sky tournament, Breunig also passed Johnson to move into No. 17 on UM’s all-time scoring list, and now sits behind Charles Davis who posted 1,214 career points. After passing Johnson’s career mark of 1,124, Breunig is now the highest scoring two-year player in Montana history.
After correcting a clerical error, Breunig was named a unanimous selection to the Big Sky’s all-conference first team last week.
Montana Coach Travis DeCuire is now UM’s only coach to post 20 wins in his first two seasons at the helm of the Grizzlies.
NEVADA NOTES: The Wolf Pack is led in scoring by senior guard Marqueze Coleman, who has averaged 15.9 points per game this year and handed out 99 assists. Coleman played a combined 21 minutes at the Mountain West championship after injuring his ankle. He is expected to miss the game against Montana.
At 19-13, Nevada is tied for the fifteenth-most improved team in the country this season under first-year head coach Eric Musselman. The Wolf Pack finished the 2014-15 season 9-22 overall and 5-13 in the Mountain West.
Freshman Cameron Oliver was named to the Mountain West All-Tournament team, posting back-to-back double-doubles with 26 points and 15 rebounds vs. New Mexico and 21 points and 10 rebounds in the semifinal against San Diego State.