Weber State men's basketball holds an all-time series edge of 42-10 over Sacramento State. It's been a lopsided series, to say the least, but the Hornets are winners in three of the last four, including the last two contests played at the bandbox Hornets Nest.
Add that Weber State (14-5, 9-3 Big Sky) is 4-3 in road Big Sky games to this point, and Sacramento State (7-8, 4-6) is playing a somewhat top-heavy conference slate, and playing two times in Sacramento isn't automatically destined to produce two wins for a WSU team that has won seven of its last eight.
Last season, Sac State fielded, by Ken Pomeroy rating, its best team in Brian Katz's 13 years as head coach there. It hung its hat on stingy defense and bested WSU two out of three times; the gimpy Wildcats claimed one win when Jerrick Harding exploded for 44 points to win in Ogden.
But gone from that Hornets team are seniors Josh Patton, who was by impact a Big Sky version of Rudy Gobert, floor general Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa, and defensive wing stopper Osi Nwachukwu.
The numbers show Sac State is feeling their loss: instead of a top-100 defense that rebounds well, limits 3-point attempts and holds teams to low shooting percentages, the Hornets allow teams to shoot at a high clip and don't control the paint nearly as well.
But Ethan Esposito, who has been a thorn in Weber's side for two seasons, is now a senior, scoring 17.5 points per game and drawing fouls at a high rate. Wing player Bryce Fowler is also now a senior, adding 13.1 points per contest. Christian Terrell, a senior transfer from UC Santa Barbara, is the team's best 3-point shooter at 41.2%.
Against Division I teams, Weber State is sixth nationally in effective field goal percentage, and Sac State's defense is 316th. The Wildcats ought to be able to generate plenty of good looks, especially in the paint. If Dontay Bassett returns from illness to join Cody Carlson in the frontcourt, things look good for WSU.
But winning on the road is never easy in conference play. So far, WSU has managed two splits against Montana and Portland State, lost a lone contest at Southern Utah, and won twice at lowly Idaho.
Sac State hasn't played at home in a month after six straight road games. The Hornets are 3-1 at home in the Big Sky, with a split against Montana and a sweep of Idaho.
A road sweep might not be a statement for Weber State, but it could still count as a strong indicator as to what kind of tournament team the Wildcats might be.
Thursday's game tips off at 6 p.m. MST with Saturday's game at noon. Both can be viewed on Pluto TV channel 1052, with a radio call on 103.1 FM and 1031thewave.com.