Sunday, March 5, 2017

Big Sky Conference tournament preview

This is part 16 of a 32-part series previewing every conference tournament in the country.  We'll detail what you need to keep track of in each tournament and the various stakes for each team.

The standings:
North Dakota 14-4
Eastern Washington 13-5
Weber St 12-6
Idaho 12-6
Montana 11-7
Montana St 11-7
Sacramento St 9-9
Portland St 7-11
Northern Colorado 7-11
Northern Arizona 6-12
Idaho St 3-15
Southern Utah 3-15

Tournament format:
Neutral site in Reno.  They share with the women, so the schedule is all weird.  First round Tuesday March 7, then quarters to finals on Wed/Sat March 9-11.  Northern Colorado is APR'd out.

The matchups:
1) North Dakota vs. 8/9 Portland St/Northern Arizona
4) Idaho vs. 5) Montana
2) Eastern Washington vs. 7/10) Sacramento St/Idaho St
3) Weber St vs. 6/11) Montana St/Southern Utah

The stakes:
They sit pretty far down at RPI 28 as a conference.  NDak is RPI 176, their highest is EWU at RPI 146.  Not great.  This is probably a conference where their champ is going to get sent to Dayton, barring a lot of help in a lot of different places.  No one has anything approaching a quality win either, so a 16 seed is just about their ceiling.  There's not much to talk about here.  I can't build much of a case to save whoever wins this conference, short of the NCAA wanting a western team to send to Salt Lake City to play Gonzaga.  Perhaps that's the only silver lining I can find.

They do have 5 CIT-eligible teams behind North Dakota, at least.  Eastern Washington probably deserves some kind of postseason.  We'll see about Idaho and Weber St...if Montana or Montana St make it though, we'll know the CIT is scrambling to fill their field.

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