lc state tech men (copy)

Montana Tech's Jalen Coates drives to the basket around the defense of Lewis-Clark State's Youssoupha Kane in the first half of their game last week in Butte.

Ron Balaskovitz, ron.balaskovitz@lee.net

Carroll needs to be perfect.

Western needs to be perfect and have a Carroll lapse.

Lewis-Clark State is going to finish in third place.

MSU-Northern and Rocky Mountain could flip flop in the fourth and fifth spots.

Great Falls and Montana Tech have sixth and seventh wrapped.

Those are the Frontier standing scenarios going into the last weeks’ bloodbath. And here’s a look at a little more detail for each team ahead of the final week in Frontier play.

No. 8 Carroll College Saints

Record: 23-5, 13-3

Last week: The Saints discovered parts of a new winning formula en route to knocking off Great Falls 76-58 and Montana State-Northern 68-60 to shake off the Saints’ first losing week in conference the week prior. The Saints’ ever-sharp defense surfaced, as the team gave up an average of 59 points in the wins. As Carroll tinkers and experiments with lineups and continues healing, the Saints showed their defense will keep them among the nation’s best.

This week: Carroll has the tall order of closing out the season on the road against a pair of opponents that only play once this week. The Saints begin their quest to closing out a regular season Frontier title in Butte on Thursday, visiting the Orediggers (7-21, 1-16). The Orediggers will enter the game on five days of preparation for their final game, and seeking to send first-year coach Adam Hiatt out of the season with his second conference win. Two nights later, the Saints will be in Lewiston, Idaho, to face the Lewis-Clark State College Warriors (22-8, 11-6). LCSC will have had a full week since their last game before taking on Carroll and, like Tech, only will be preparing to face the Saints. Carroll has a chance to complete season sweeps against both teams, though the Saints' combined margin of victory against the Warriors is four points.

No. 13 Montana Western Bulldogs

Record: 22-6, 12-4

Last week: Western got back to winning picking up a pair of wins at home. The Bulldogs crushed Lewis-Clark State, 95-66, a team that could shake the conference up with a late-season winning streak. Western then hosted Montana Tech and handled the Orediggers, 78-66. Dom Robinson led the Bulldogs in both wins, highlighted by winning the conference’s player of the week award.

This week: Western, like Carroll, also closes the season on the road. Western visits Havre on Friday to face the Lights (20-8, 9-7). The Bulldogs have split with Northern so far, defeating the Lights in Havre 75-62 and losing at home 76-73. Western then gets Great Falls (11-16, 3-13) the next night in the Electric City. Western owns two wins over the Argos on the season.

Lewis-Clark State College Warriors

Record: 22-8, 11-6

Last week: The Warriors saw their three-game winning streak end at the hands of No. 13 Montana Western, 95-66, before rebounding for a win over a pesky Rocky Mountain College teams two nights later. The Warriors' losses this season have come to Carroll, Western and Rocky Mountain.

This week: Lewis-Clark State has the luxury of a single-game slate this week, hosting No. 8 Carroll College (23-5, 13-3). It will have been seven days since the Warriors last played in Billings, and Carroll will be playing its second game in three nights. It may just be the edge the Warriors need to overcome the Saints. The Warriors have fallen to Carroll 73-72 in Lewiston and 81-78 in Helena this season. While the Warriors can’t climb any higher than third place in the Frontier, they will certainly be looking for a resume-building win over the Saints to close the regular season.

Montana State-Northern Lights

Record: 20-8, 9-7

Last week: The Lights didn’t finish their six-game road trip the way they wanted. Two nights after picking up a 59-53 win over Great Falls, the Lights fell to No. 8 Carrol College 68-60, finishing 4-2 on the three-week away schedule.

This week: The Lights end the regular season with home games against No. 13 Montana Western (22-6, 12-4), who the Lights split with this season, and a game against Rocky Mountain College (15-13, 8-8). MSU-N defeated Rocky twice this season, winning 65-55 in Havre and 66-61 in Billings. With two wins, the Lights could tie Lewis-Clark State if the Warriors lost, but would remain in fourth place due to their head-to-head matchup.

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Rocky Mountain College Battlin’ Bears

Record: 15-13, 8-8

Last week: The Battlin’ Bears impressive home streak finally collapsed. Rocky picked up their fourth consecutive win with a 79-60 decision over Montana Tech, but then two nights later fell to Lewis-Clark State College, 77-71.

This week: Rocky's final chapter will be written from the road, as the Battlin’ Bears visit Great Falls (11-16, 3-13) and Montana State-Northern (20-8, 9-7). Rocky has beat Great Falls twice this season, and has fallen to Northern twice, losing in Havre 65-66 and falling at home 66-61.

University of Great Falls Argonauts

Record: 11-16, 3-13

Last week: Great Falls fell back into its losing habit, dropping two games between Montana State-Northern and Carroll College. The Argos hosted the Lights and narrowly lost 59-53. A night later, the Argos went to Helena and fell 76-58. The Argos have only won one game in in their last 13 tries.

This week: The Argos end the season within the friendly confines of Great Falls, hosting Rocky Mountain (15-13, 8-8) and No. 13 Montana Western (22-6, 12-4). The Argos have not defeated either team this season.

Montana Tech Orediggers

Record: 7-21, 1-16

Last week: The Orediggers couldn’t muster the rhythm to shake free from a eight-game losing streak, dropping two games to Rocky Mountain College and No. 13 Montana Western. Tech lost to Rocky Mountain 79-60 before dropping its game in Dillon 78-66. The Orediggers have only found one win in conference this season, a 64-59 win over Great Falls.

This week: The Orediggers could end their season in style if they can knock off No. 8 Carroll College on Thursday. Montana Tech only plays one game this week, so the Orediggers will be able to prep for the Saints and the Saints alone – and, hey, maybe notch a conference home win this season. Carroll, on the other hand, will be playing to win the Frontier regular season conference crown.

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