First off, just wanted to say thank you to everyone for their kind comments and support after my last post… we had a safe, good trip. Funerals are always tough, but it was great to gather with friends and family and get some closure on everything.
In the meantime, there was a lot that happened in the Big Sky over the weekend, magnified by the fact that there are just a few games left in the regular season. Let’s take a look at the biggest storylines coming out of the Big Sky from the past few days…
1. We have our dream Montana/Weber State Matchup
Both teams have made it to the final game of the season at 14-1 in the Big Sky, and both teams are playing great basketball. Montana has won 11 straight games (and 17 of 18), while Weber State has won seven straight games (and 17 of 18)... needless to say, there is no better way to end the season in the Big Sky than this. Weber State won their first meeting, but Montana is looking tough. I will have more later tonight about the ramifications of this game, but safe to say, it is huge!
2. All of the tournament first-round matchups are set
With the way that things played out over the weekend, Portland State locked themselves into the three seed, which is easy to see when looking at the standings. Less easy to see is that Montana State will wind up sixth, meaning they will travel to Portland for the first round on Saturday. That leaves two things to be determined about the Big Sky tournament. First, who will be the top seed and who will be number two (see storyline 1), which obviously has huge implications. The other thing is determining if Eastern Washington or Idaho State will be at home on Saturday (see storyline 4), which is also big. But there remains no more drama on who will make it, and we are able to focus on the first-round matchups themselves.
Everyone has been focusing on Weber State and Montana, but Portland State is slowly becoming the darkhorse in the Big Sky. They have won five straight conference games, and they seem to be the only team with the offensive firepower to possibly stay with the top two teams, if they make it past the quarterfinals. If they advance, it would make for a fun semifinal matchup against whoever winds up at the two seed, since that would be a neutral site game.
4. Eastern Washington and Idaho State will play for homecourt advantage
It is an odd end to the year for these two teams... they met on February 23 in Pocetello (won by Eastern Washington), they will meet again on February 28 in Cheney, and then will meet again on Saturday at the homecourt of whoever wins tomorrow. Needless to say, it will be a big game tomorrow night. Almost as important, the winner will move to .500 for the conference season, which would be a really nice accomplishment.
5. Northern Colorado will not be defending their crown
After their loss to Weber State on Thursday, their chances of making the Big Sky tournament got thin. They basically needed everything to go right, and things did not break their way over the weekend. Thus, there is no way they can win the tiebreaker and sneak into the tournament as a six seed, and they will be on the outside looking in, unable to defend their title from last year. It is not a big surprise, but does come as a disappointment to a lot of Northern Colorado fans. They should be back strong next year, and at this point look like they could be a top 3 Big Sky team in my opinion. They still have a chance to build some momentum and finish with what would be a nice road win over Portland State.
6. Sacramento State ends the year on a high note
It has been an up-and-down season for the Hornets, and one that began with high expectations of getting back to the Big Sky tournament. That didn’t happen, but they were able to end the year with a win and finish over .500 for the second half of the conference season, which should provide the program with some nice momentum for a change. They finished 5-11, which is more Big Sky wins than they have had since 2007. They return almost everyone, so they should be improved next season.
Any other big storylines I missed?
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