Scouting Report: NAU

Let's face the facts, this is a money game plain and simple. Anyone who thinks otherwise is just deluding himself. One team is the top ranked team in the nation, while the other is a mid-level team in the Big Sky. If Northern Arizona somehow beats the Wildcats at McKale it would be one of the bigger upsets in recent history.

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Frankly, the Lumberjacks just don't have the talent to hang with the Wildcats. This year's team is a far cry from the tournament squads that put scares into Cincinnati and St. John's. So far this year's team has fallen to High Point and beaten St. Peter's in overtime after blowing an 18-point half time lead. Conversely, the Wildcats blew 19th ranked Western Kentucky out by 39 points.

NAU knows they can't run with the Wildcats and will do everything they can to slow the game down. The Lumberjacks would like to limit possessions and try to get good looks at the basket, especially from three-point land.

The Lumberjacks lack big post players, but have size across the board. They start four players who see time at forward, but the tallest is only 6-7. In fact there isn't a player over 6-8 in the 10-man rotation. NAU is led by All-Big Sky player Ryan McDade. The senior averages 15 points a game and almost nine rebounds.

The Lumberjacks like to shoot the three and do it well. For the season they are connecting on exactly half of their attempts and usually accurate Kodi Yazzie has been cold to start the year. Guard Chris Ferguson has shot a stunning 7-for-11 behind the arc.

The Wildcats will try to run and press and keep the tempo fast. They know that NAU does not have the athletes to keep up. If for some reason the ‘Jacks can slow the Cats down, the Wildcats have the advantage inside with five players 6-8 or bigger.

OUTLOOK: There is no way NAU should win. They just don't have the players to keep up with the Wildcats. There only chance would be a monumental Wildcat collapse combined with lights-out shooting from behind the arc. Realistically, the question isn't if the Wildcats will win, it's by how much.


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