GCU heads to the Pacific Northwest for a showdown with Seattle U this weekend. The Lopes are looking to rebound from their first conference loss on Saturday. Meanwhile, Seattle U was supposed to play this past weekend at UTRGV. However, the weather in Texas created a lot of travel chaos and the series was cancelled.
GCU comes into the weekend needing two wins and two Utah Valley losses to clinch its first-ever WAC regular season title. The Lopes are 7-1 in WAC play and 13-4 overall. GCU has won nine of its last ten games and had its 7-game win streak snapped last weekend by California Baptist.
The Redhawks are in the middle of the pack in the WAC. Seattle U is 2-3 in WAC play and 9-8 overall. It’s kind of crazy to think that Seattle played 12 non-conference games without any pauses. But since WAC play began, the Redhawks have had half of one series cancelled, and two other series cancelled for various reasons.
Either way, Seattle U boasts of a WAC Player of the Year candidate in Darrion Trammell. The City College of San Francisco transfer averages a league-best 19.6 points per game. Against Dixie State three weeks ago, Trammell had back-to-back 30-point games. Seattle U also has the second-leading scorer in the WAC in Riley Grigsby at 18.0 points per game.
GCU counters with Asbjørn Midtgaard and Alessandro Lever. The big men average nearly 27 points combined per game. Midtgaard is one of the nation’s leaders in FG percentage shooting nearly 74 percent from the field. Lever is shooting 51 percent from the field and 42 percent from 3-point land.
Question is, which strength will prevail this weekend?
Jovan Blacksher Jr. vs. Darrion Trammell
This should be a fun matchup to watch. Quick, athletic guards going head-to-head. And both can shoot the ball from deep. Blacksher Jr. and Trammell each shoot about 43 percent from the field. And both shoot around 35 percent from 3-point land. Trammell dishes it a little more, averaging 5.5 assists per game. Blacksher Jr. is at 4.8 per game.
Like I said, this should be a fun matchup. These two guards have the ball in their hands on every possession they are on the floor. Trammell is the scorer of the two. Blacksher Jr. is a little more of a floor general of the two. Both are in the top-10 in the WAC in steals. Trammell is first with 34 steals while Blacksher Jr. is 9th with 18.
Whichever guard has the better night will likely be the winner this weekend.
Can Seattle U Hang Despite GCU’s Size Advantage?
No offense to Kobe Williamson or Emeka Udenyi, but GCU has a huge size advantage this weekend. At 7-feet, 270 pounds, Asbjørn Midtgaard has a four inch, 50-pound advantage over the 6-8, 225-pound Williamson. And at 6-10 and 235 pounds, Alessandro Lever has a significant size advantage over Emeka Udenyi at 6-6, 225 pounds.
Williamson and Udenyi combine for 13.0 points and 14.4 rebounds per game. For comparison, that is nearly what Midtgaard averages alone per game. The Wichita State transfer averages 14.3 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. Lever averages 13.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.
So, advantage GCU, right?
One thing to consider…the last time Seattle played against two big men this talented, it took a 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat the Redhawks. Utah Valley has a dynamic duo in the paint similar to the Lopes and Seattle should have knocked off the Wolverines.
So, it should surprise no one if and when Seattle hangs with the Lopes or even knocks them off.
Underrated Matchup to Watch
Oscar Frayer vs. Riley Grigsby. Frayer is the best defender for the Lopes while Grigsby is the second-leading scorer for the Redhawks. Frayer will give Grigsby problems with his quickness and athleticism. But, Grigsby has a high basketball IQ and moves really well without the ball. And, Grigsby can finish both inside and outside, which could create problems for Frayer. Grigsby shoots 47 percent from the field and 41 percent from 3-point land.
Keep your eye on this matchup. Frayer is an elite defender who draws teams’ best players. And this weekend in Seattle, he will get one of the best players in the WAC.
Size is a major issue for Seattle. They just don’t have it. Asbjørn Midtgaard may solidify himself as WAC Player of the Year this weekend. But, Seattle can shoot it from deep. In five WAC games this season, Seattle is averaging just over 10 made 3-pointers per game. Against Utah Valley in their conference opener, the Redhawks scored 92 points and fell 93-92 on Trey Woodbury’s 3-pointer with a second to play in overtime.
I am going to with a series split in this one. Seattle will get the better of GCU on Friday night. The Redhawks are fresh and got rest from last week. The Lopes are coming off a battle with CBU and then the long travel from Phoenix to the Pacific Northwest so not sure how fresh their legs are. All five Lopes’ starters played 30-plus minutes on Saturday as well as 30-plus minutes on Friday. And there is something about playing in an empty Redhawk Center that challenges teams’ mental status.
Seattle wins 76-70 on Friday night. GCU wins 67-62 on Saturday.
Both games can be seen on the WAC Digital Network with tip set for 7 p.m. MT both nights.