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Seeking first NCAA tourney win, Montana State set to face Grambling State in First Four matchup

Robert Ford III
Posted at 7:05 AM, Mar 20, 2024

DAYTON, Ohio — In its third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, Montana State is set to take on fellow No. 16 seed Grambling State in a First Four matchup at University of Dayton Arena on Wednesday.

Grambling State, coming off a Southwestern Athletic Conference championship, is making its first NCAA tourney appearance. Like MSU, the Tigers have caught fire in their final stretch of games leading up to March Madness.

"They won nine of their last 10 games," Bobcats coach Logie said during a press conference on Tuesday. "They have a veteran backcourt that is very dynamic, and so, they very much know who they are. And, they’re well-tested, you know. They played a lot of high-major opponents in the non-conference, and you learn a lot about yourself in those scenarios."

The Bobcats, winners of the Big Sky Conference, have a solid veteran backcourt as well, lead by Big Sky tournament MVP and the league's defensive player of the year Robert Ford III.

"You know, I feel like we've got a lot of weapons," Ford said. "We've got a lot of people on our team that can show up any given day, so, me knowing that we have that, it helps."

Maintaining the strong culture of the Montana State program, one that has led the Bobcats to three straight NCAA tournament appearances, was stressed when Logie took over as coach this past offseason after Danny Sprinkle departed for Utah State.

"The fabric of Montana State basketball is something that we wanted to hold onto, and that’s what I hope America would see tomorrow night, is, kind of, the blue-collar, chip-on-your-shoulder mentality this team has," Logie said. "You know, we are in the middle of a golden era in Montana State athletics, and Bobcat basketball in particular."

Junior guard Tyler Patterson echoed his coach's thoughts.

"I think it has everything to do with culture," Patterson said. "It starts with administration, in the way that they’ve hired the last two coaches, and the visions that both of them had, and the way that they helped us execute their plan, and thankfully for us it’s been three really good years."

Junior forward Brian Goracke came with Logie from NCAA Division II Point Loma (Calif.) this offseason. He explained how they maintain the process to win at a high level in March.

“The process never changed. Winning takes what it takes, so we prepare for every game like we want to win it. When we get to the playoffs it’s the same. Same scout, same prep, same everything. Just try to win the game,.” Goracke said.

The Bobcats are making the sixth tourney appearance in program history and are seeking their first victory.

Montana State tips off against Grambling State on TruTV at 4:40 p.m. (MDT) in the First Four on Wednesday. The winner will advance to face No. 1 seed Purdue on Friday in a first-round game in Indianapolis.