With all but four games in the books for each team, we are basically no closer to figuring out who the third seed will be, or which seven teams will be in tournament than when the season started! That is what makes the Big Sky so great. 10 wins will get you in for sure, and I have a feeling that nine wins will probably make you pretty safe. But if you have eight, you'll be sweating things, and there is certainly a chance that nine will put you in a tiebreaker as well.
So let's take a quick rundown of the Big Sky standings and assess the team's chances.
1. Montana (15-1)
Well, they still control their destiny. Road games against a reeling Montana State team and a physical Southern Utah team look like the biggest challenges. Montana should win both of those games, but it's far from a foregone conclusion. They get Sacramento State at home, and while the Hornets gave them a ton of trouble in Sacramento, it's hard to see it happening in Missoula. The two road games are going to be the key.
2. Weber State (14-2)
Obviously they have to hope that Montana loses and that the tiebreakers go into their favor. In terms of winning out, their schedule is favorable. They travel to Sacramento State (who is struggling) and Northern Arizona, but then get Portland State and Eastern Washington at home - two teams that have struggled badly in road games.
3. North Dakota / Southern Utah (8-8)
Southern Utah's task got tougher when they found out third leading scorer Wade Collie got arrested and suspender, but the biggest challenge for them is the schedule. They get the Montana schools at home, then travel to North Dakota and Northern Colorado to end the year. There is probably one win in that group, but not sure there is more than that. North Dakota travels to Northern Colorado this week, and then PSU and EWU the next week. They need at least one of those three. Then they end the year with Southern Utah at home. 10 wins seems like the right number that they will get.
5. Northern Colorado / Sacramento State / Northern Arizona / Montana State (7-9)
Northern Colorado, to me, looks to be in the driver's seat for fifth right now, if not higher. They have played well the last three games, and the schedule breaks nicely. They get UND and Southern Utah at home, two teams right above them in the standings. They travel to EWU and PSU, two winnable games (though nothing on the road is easy). I think they can win three of four. Montana State has three home games remaining, but they are playing bad basketball right now.
Sacramento State and Northern Arizona get Weber/ISU at home, and then the Montana schools on the road. There is one game (ISU at home) where they'll be favored, and could be underdogs in the other three. There seems to be a fairly decent chance that Sacramento State @ Montana State on the final day of the season will decide who goes to the conference tournament who goes home.
9. Eastern Washington (6-10)
The loss to Portland State makes things very difficult for the Eagles. Basically, they need to win 3 of 4 to have a fighting chance. First up is two home games, with Northern Colorado and North Dakota. I don't love their chances, but it could be a lot worse. Then, they go on the road to face Idaho State and Weber State. With due respect to ISU, there is a reason they are last in the conference. That is a winnable game. Again, not ideal, but all is not lost quite yet for the Eagles.
10. Portland State (5-11)
Technically, they are still alive. But they most likely have to win four straight, and I don't see that. If they can go into Ogden and beat Weber State, they will deserve a spot in the tournament. But nothing they have done this year suggests they are capable of such a run.
11. Idaho State (4-12)
Idaho State has impressed me this year. They have been in some games they probably shouldn't have, and they always play hard. Bill Evans and laid a nice foundation.
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I know it isn't possible, but the Bengals have been playing pretty well as of late; especially at the Lolt arena. Bill Evans is getting a lot more back than what he is losing. The Bengals, I think will win their last two home games, and might pull of a win on the road, since NAU and SAC could be focusing more on Weber. It could be reversed the Jacks and Hornets might be putting more time into preparing for the Bengals than Weber in the effort to ensure at least 1 win that week.ReplyDelete
UNCO is starting to gel at the right time. I figured at the end of the 11 season that it would take the cubbies a couple of years before they would become a conference contender again. Every three to four years for the cubbies. Next season, if they underachieve, UNCO might want to start looking for a new coach. Kinda dumb of Hill not to have Garnica as his starting PG, but that is my opinion. I feel he is a safer bet, but... Barden is a beast and if they can get Addo or Osborne playing better the cubbies will have a dual threat in the paint. Unruh and Huskisson are solid. Gotta get better leadership and chemistry.ReplyDelete
Anon 1, I agree on ISU and Evans, playing well of late and really laying things out nicely for the future. I'm not quite as optimistic that they'll win 2 or 3 out of the last 4, but the most important thing is they are representing themselves well, playing hard. And have the start of a nice recruiting class for next year, better than previous years for sure!ReplyDelete
Anon 2, disagreed about Garnica. I don't love Svihovec's game, but I think Garnica's up and down game is better suited to a 6th man. He can make great plays for sure, but he also makes some dumb ones. I like his role right now... he has a higher ceiling than Svihovec, but is not as steady. I like their core, you are right in just need Osborne/Addo to step up and complement Barden.