As of today, it looks like we will have nine teams fighting for eight conference tournament spots. Going further, we can probably assume Eastern Washington, Sacramento State, Montana, Northern Arizona, and Northern Colorado will be in. That's five. That would leave four teams battling for three spots.
Those four teams:
- Portland State (5-5)
- Idaho (4-5)
- Weber State (4-6)
- North Dakota (4-6)
While it would be a nice story if Southern Utah (2-7) was able to make a run, it seems unlikely. They've won three conference games in the past 1.5 seasons, so I don't see them running off a 6-3 stretch to end the conference year, which is what it would likely take to get into a tiebreaker.
- Of the four, we have to give PSU the biggest chance of making it as of now, simply because they've reached the five win mark. However, they also have arguably the toughest remaining schedule. Their next three games are at Sacramento State, at Idaho, at Eastern Washington. It's not hard to envision them coming home at 5-8. From there, they host North Dakota, Northern Colorado, and Sac State, before closing the year on the road at Northern Arizona and Southern Utah. Are there four wins there?
- On paper, I think Idaho is the best team of the four, but a home loss to North Dakota could hurt them if it comes down to tiebreakers (they meet only once this year). They have four home games, but one is against Sac State, and another is against Montana, so there aren't a ton of gimmes there either. Next Thursday, hosting PSU, looms as a big game, because Idaho needs a split there for tiebreaker purposes.
- Weber State is a surprise entrant based on preseason expectations, but they've lost 4 of 5. However, their schedule sets up favorably the rest of the way - 5 of their 8 remaining games are at home, and two of the road games are against Idaho State and Montana State. They should be safe.
- North Dakota keeps hanging around, including getting a huge road win at Southern Utah last night. At 4-6, they have four home dates and four away dates remaining, but all the road games are losses on paper (NAU, PSU, Sac State, UNC). However, they showed by beating Idaho on the road that they are capable of getting the upset there. Their best bet is to hold serve at home and get one road upset.
If I have to predict it, I think this is what we'll see by the end of the year:
6. Idaho (9-9)
7. Weber State (9-9)
8. Portland State (8-10)
9. North Dakota (7-11)
Follow me on Twitter @bigskybball