As the Big Sky looks to potentially move its tournament to a neutral site which is fixed, the next question is the location. That is where Billings and other cities come in.
MetraPark marketing director Ray Massie said the city has made “an aggressive bid” to the Big Sky for hosting rights. The three-year proposal was submitted to the conference Wednesday by Visit Billings, the tourism arm of the city's Chamber of Commerce.The cities are either bidding on the men's tournament, women's tournament, or both:
Billings is one of seven locations that have made binding proposals to host either the men’s tournament, the women’s tournament, or both. The city is competing for the men’s tournament with Missoula (in conjunction with the University of Montana), Ogden, Utah (Weber State), Flagstaff, Ariz. (Northern Arizona), Spokane/Cheney, Wash. (Eastern Washington), Greeley/Loveland, Colo. (Northern Colorado), and another neutral site, Reno, Nev.Of the options, Billings and Reno certainly seem to make the most sense in the fact that they are neutral sites. Of the two, Reno would be "more neutral" given its location, which I would guess would be a big factor.
The bids from Spokane/Cheney, Greeley/Loveland and Reno seek to host combined men’s and women’s tournaments. Spokane/Cheney and Greeley/Loveland have each put in a bid for only the women’s tournament, too.
Missoula has also bid on the women’s tournament, but does not have an interest in being a dual-tournament host.
Another tidbit from the article is that a decision is expected in early March, and that future conference tournaments are expected to include all 12 teams, rather than the eight that will make it this year.
From a basketball standpoint, the current format makes a lot of sense. For conferences like the Big Sky, you want to do everything possible to make sure your best team makes the NCAA Tournament, because a win there will do more for exposure than anything else. That is why I like having a smaller tournament which includes a bye for the top seed, and having it at the location of the top seed.
From a practicality standpoint, a neutral site certainly makes a ton of sense. Not knowing where you are going until the final week can be a big logistical and financial challenge for schools, who likely have fairly limited athletic budgets. Having a predetermined site such as Reno would make that a lot easier.
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Who the hell would consider moving the Big Sky Tourney to fricken Billings, MT?????? How the heck is that fair to all the Big Sky teams that have to do trains, planes and automobiles just to get there? There is no major airport within 4-500 miles? Reno is the only fair choice out of those listed (albeit not perfect). Reno is easily accessible to all Big Sky teams and is low enough latitudinally and in elevation so that weather shouldn't be a problem the vast majority of years. MSU would obtain a major advantage with this move- UM less so. Reno provides only a very very minor advantage to Sac State. Let's hope that those making the decision are smart people because Billings would be a disaster. #1JacksFanReplyDelete
The only intriguing thing about Billings is that it is very similar to Sioux Falls, SD in size, and they are both the biggest city in their states and don't have a local D-I school. Sioux Falls hosts the Summit League tournament, and it's a huge success. They draw thousands, because it's the biggest sporting event of the year. Might Billings be similar? Who knows.ReplyDelete
I did my best to talk up Big Sky Conference basketball when I lived in Montana but it was to limited avail. Football seemed to be the king. I found it interesting that high school basketball seemed to receive good support, though. I just don't see Billings going all-in if they receive the bid.ReplyDelete
Fairness isn't the conference's motivation in this. I'm not delusional. I am merely a fan who drives up the mountain a few times a year to watch some football and hoops but here's my take:
1. Don't fix what isn't (truly) broken. Reward the team with the best performance the chance to turn home court advantage into an NCAA bid. If the conference wants to puts its best chances forward then give the top team the best chance.
2. Do away with the conference tourney and award the regular season winner the NCAA bid. The Big Sky Conference tourney hasn't exactly been a cash cow.
3. If a neutral site is chosen....then make it a truly neutral location. Billings isn't neutral (and I ask for any reasonable MSU or UofM fan to explain to me how it is). Reno would be and it provides other goodies (gambling, skiing, dining..... Sin City part deux) to appease and motivate fans.
I agree with everything here MTJack. Great comment.Delete
I agree with all points, excepting point #2. Removing the tourney takes away from the student athlete experience. Most teams in the Big Sky will not go to the big dance in a 4-year period...the one and one atmosphere of a tourney creates interesting coaching moves and all sorts of interest that normally wouldn't be there. Further, teams that fall out of the hunt early will suffer significant loss in fan interest and will create a horrible atmosphere for the lower tier teams. #1JacksFanReplyDelete
OK, I actually reverse course and agree with #1JacksFan on this point, I do like the tourney. I do like though how it it currently set up, with not everyone making it... it makes for a more exciting regular season, and rewards teams a bit. I would say of 12 teams, I like no more than 8 making it. Going to the full 12 would be a bad idea, IMO.Delete
You have a future in politics, Jon! ;-)Delete
If they have all the teams play in the Tourney, my hope is they set it up like all the power conferences have. 5-12 play the first day, then bracket is reset where 1-4 seeds play the winners based off of seeding. Then 1-4 still only play 3 games and it will take a lower seed 4 games to win the championship.ReplyDelete
Agree with a lot of what was said. Reno is the only true neutral location, I also like the idea of both men's and women's tournament's being at the same venue. Not sure how putting the BSCT hundreds of miles away from the nearest BSC member makes any sense (Billings).ReplyDelete
I hate the idea of every team getting into the BSCT. Last season I recall being interested in the late season games as the Hornets were battling for a final tourney berth. Under a "everyone gets in" plan there is just no way I would give much attention to whether we get the 8th or 10 seed. It really makes no difference.
Here's Reno's story: http://www.rgj.com/story/sports/2015/01/26/reno-bids-host-big-sky-basketball-tournaments/22360333/ReplyDelete
Billings will bring in more fans to the arena I think. Reno won't turn out for the lowly Big Sky. I think the Sioux Falls analogy in an above post is right on. I do like the idea of having both men's and women's tournaments in the same location though. Having the regular season winner host and not all teams making it adds a lot to the regular season. But I imagine the travel logistics are just incredibly difficult.
If the BSCT was all about turnout then it would stay at a host school. No neutral site "should" draw more from casual college hoops fans than if it were held on a the BSC regular season champs campus.Delete
I'm not buying the "hey there is nothing else to do here so people will come" concept associated with Billings.
Agree with the idea not all teams should make the tourney, but a conference tourney really adds a lot of interest to the conference season. Billings is a very very bad idea. Access is critical to Big Sky fans. The conference will turn its back on NAU, SUU, and Sac State fans, and to a lesser extent, all other Big Sky school fans except the Montana's if they go this route. Billings is hard to travel to and extremely expensive. Reno is easily accessible to all Big Sky teams and very very inexpensive to fly to. Don't believe me. Look it up. #1JacksFanReplyDelete
Besides the fact that Reno has a hell of a lot more entertainment and wider variety of accommodations than Billings will ever have! #1JacksFanReplyDelete
Most fan bases in the conference can't be bothered to show up to a home game. Why would anyone think they would fly to Reno, best known for being a lot like Vegas, but worse in every way. Keep it on campus.ReplyDelete