Team preview: Portland State

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(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)

Sometimes the difference between success and failure is razor thin. Just ask the Portland State basketball team.

The Vikings started last season well enough, (7-6), especially considering nine of those games were on the road. That stretch featured an impressive, 54-52 win downstate at the University of Oregon. But once Big Sky Conference play started, disaster struck. The Vikings proceeded to lose three straight, won once, and then lost six more in a row. Dropping 9-of-10 games in conference play was a killer.

But it was as much as the way the Vikings lost as the losses themselves. Five of the games were lost in the final possession of regulation. One more game (at Eastern Washington) was lost in overtime. Some of those narrow losses included 68-66 to Idaho State, 69-68 to Montana State, 65-63 to Northern Arizona, and 68-65 to Sacramento State.

The tight loss to regular-season champion Northern Arizona as well as the regular season-ending 93-92 overtime victory at home over Big Sky Tournament champion and first-round NCAA Tournament winner Montana showed that the Vikings really weren't that far removed from being one of the conference's elite teams.