Oh how I love college basketball. Now that we are nearly a week into March, conference tournament are well underway. This week is known as championship week, as we will see a handful of teams punch their tickets to the Big Dance in the coming days. Four teams are already locked in. Who will be next?
One conference that will see its tournament start off tomorrow will be the Big Sky Conference. A conference that was won by North Dakota, who went 14-4 in conference play. In total, there were six teams that had over 10 wins in conference play. So this one should certainly be an entertaining few days.
Things will begin tomorrow, Tuesday, March 7th. Over the next five days, the teams of the Big Sky will be going at it. Things will take a break on the 8th, followed by the quarterfinals on the 9th. It will all wrap up on Saturday, March 11th, with a team be rewarded a NCAA Tournament bid. You can check out the seedings and a link to the bracket below.
(1) North Dakota
(2) Weber State
(3) Eastern Washington
(6) Montana State
(7) Sacramento State
(8) Portland State
(9) Northern Arizona
(10) Idaho State
(11) Southern Utah
To start the first round, we have the eight-nine matchup between Portland State and Northern Arizona. Despite this being a matchup of two of the lower seeds, this seems like an easy pick. Portland State hands down has better stats. They should roll on to face North Dakota, thanks to an 82-72 win. Many will just predict North Dakota to move on with ease, but I am going to throw a curveball. I like the eight seed to sneak past the one here with the upset victory, pulling down the 80-79 win.
They will then get the winner of the four-five matchup, which pits Idaho and Montana against one another. This should be a competitive affair. Both teams are fairly even in terms of statistics. So when all is said and done, expect a close margin of victory. And the team coming out on top, Montana, who I have winning 74-72.
As we proceed to the bottom half of the bracket, we get to the matchup between Sacremento State and Idaho State. Now I do not love Sacremento State. But in comparison to Idaho State, I certainly see them as the favorite here. Idaho State is the 10 seed for good reason. They simply aren’t that great. I’ll take Sacremento State, 74-69. But no matter the outcome, I see Eastern Washington moving on, thanks to a 75-70 victory.
We close out the bottom part of the bracket with the game against Montana State and Southern Utah. Both teams foul a bunch, with neither one standing out as a big time threat in the long run. The 11 seed simply is worthy of being an 11, so give me Montana State, 83-81. They will then get Weber State. I do like Weber State a bit, but I still see this as being closer than it should be. But when all is said and done, they come out on top, 81-78.
That brings us to the semi-finals. Our first matchup, Portland State against Montana. Now you can call me crazy, but I actually think Portland State is a halfway decent team. Their biggest crutch is at the free throw line and defending the three. The three pointer should not hurt them here, and Montana commits plenty of fouls, canceling out the free throws a bit. So give me the upset once more, with Portland State moving to the finals by the score of 77-75.
The team that gets to face them in the finals will come from the Eastern Washington vs Weber State game. This sets up as another close game, as both teams have their pluses and minuses. When it comes down to the end of the game, I think the edge goes to Weber State. Give me the two seed 77-75 to move on to face Portland State.
So we have a two seed vs an eight seed. Should be an easy game for the two, right? Well, they do have two major advantages in this game. They can drop three-pointers and free throws like its their job. So while it would be nice to see the eight-run the table, I do not see it coming to fruition. Give me Weber State 70-69 to capture the automatic bid.
So what do you think? Who will earn the automatic bid out of the Big Sky Conference? Will there be an upset? Tell us in the comments!