HELENA — The Carroll College men’s basketball team has been running through the Frontier Conference all season.
At least it was, before losing senior forward Matt Wyman to a knee injury.
Since then the Saints have lost three out of their last four games. I wish Wyman all the best, but if other teams want to make a run, this is their chance.
Once he’s back I doubt anyone will be stopping Carroll.
In the meantime, let’s see how everyone is doing and how much closer teams are getting to the conference favorite.
Agree or disagree? Let me know on Twitter at @rskuhn.
1. Lewis-Clark State (20-6, 9-5 Frontier)
Lewis-Clark State has taken advantage the most of a vulnerable Carroll.
The Warriors defeated the Saints this past Saturday 70-55, and held them to just 35 percent shooting.
Dana Abe has been quietly leading his team, averaging 15 points per game, and most recently scoring 16 points against Carroll.
Look for Lewis-Clark State to keep the No. 2 spot while they have a favorable schedule against Montana Western, Montana Tech and Montana State-Northern in its next three games.
After that, a Frontier Conference title game might be very interesting, especially if Wyman is still out for Carroll.
2. Carroll College (21-5, 10-4 Frontier)
It was another rough week for Carroll, having lost three out of its last four games.
Luckily for the Saints, they still had the top spot in the Frontier Conference standings with a game lead over Lewis-Clark State.
Carroll needs to learn to win without Wyman, so other players like Shamrock Campbell and Ife Kalejaiye need to step up.
The Saints' other two scorers -- Dane Warp and Match Burnham -- also need to play consistent. If one of them has a bad game, offense might be hard to come by.
The Saints will be fine these next two weeks and should hold onto the top spot come conference tournament time.
It just might be closer than it was before.
3. Montana State-Northern (16-10, 8-6 Frontier)
There is usually one surprise team in the Power Rankings.
This week it is Montana State-Northern.
The Lights have been shining brightly the last few weeks and it has shown not only in the Power Rankings, but in the standings too.
They have three consecutive wins over ranked teams Carroll and Providence and has a favorable schedule heading into the conference tournament.
Justin Dunsmore has scored in double digits in four out of his last five games, so watch out for him.
Again, Northern is rolling and could be a team that turns some heads come tournament time.
4. University of Providence (17-8, 8-6 Frontier)
Providence’s men’s basketball team is following a very similar path to its women’s team.
The bottom line is that the Argos are not consistent.
After a great week defeating Carroll and Rocky Mountain at home, they came back to lose to Montana State-Northern 82-71 in Havre.
Sure the Argos rallied and defeated Montana Tech three days later, but if they want to make a run, the win-one-lose-one mindset is not going to work.
Austin Starr has complemented Brandon Cotton and Jaxen Hashley nicely. With all three of those players in union, the Argos’ ship will be hard to stop.
5. Rocky Mountain (16-10, 7-7 Frontier)
Rocky Mountain was picked by coaches at the beginning of the year to win the Frontier Conference.
The Battlin’ Bears lost both of their games this week, including a shocking 80-79 loss to Montana Western.
Jared Samuelson is still a player that teams shouldn't take lightly. He is averaging 19.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.
Look for him to have a strong back end of the conference season as the Battlin’ Bears look for any type of momentum going forward.
6. Montana Tech (15-11, 5-8 Frontier)
There was a time that it looked like Montana Tech could be competitive with the upper half of the Frontier Conference.
That hasn’t been the case in recent weeks.
The Orediggers have just two wins since Jan. 12 and haven’t won a road game since Thanksgiving.
The good news is that three of the final four games are at home.
The only question: is there is enough time to make some some ground? Remember, the conference’s higher seed hosts the conference tournament games.
That might not be favorable to Tech.
7. Montana Western (8-17, 2-12 Frontier)
There were finally smiles in Dillon this week as the Montana Western men’s basketball team finally won another conference game.
What will do for their confidence? Who knows?
I have said it before and I’ll keep saying it: the Bulldogs have a had a rough season so their only hope will be the conference tournament.
Maybe watching UMBC’s game against Virginia last year might give them some motivation.
If they were to knock off Lewis-Clark State, it might actually help Carroll.