Monday, February 15, 2016

Recapping the Big Sky: What happened, player of the week, game of the week

Have you taken a look at the updated standings? Do so here.

In a glance, what happened this past week …

Montana swept Southern Utah and Northern Arizona at home.

Weber State swept Sacramento State and Portland State at home.

Eastern Washington averaged 96 points a game and swept North Dakota and Northern Colorado.

Idaho State swept Portland State and Sacramento State.

Idaho swept Northern Colorado and North Dakota.

North Dakota lost to Eastern Washington and Idaho.

Montana State swept Northern Arizona and Southern Utah.

Northern Colorado lost at Idaho and Eastern Washington.

Portland State lost at Idaho State and Weber State.

Sacramento State lost at Weber State and Idaho State.

Southern Utah lost at Montana and Montana State.

Northern Arizona lost at Montana State and Montana.

Summing all of that up … HOME teams went 12-0. UM, WSU, EWU, ISU, U of I and MSU all had perfect weekends with back-to-back wins. This late into the season, that’s crucial. With six games remaining (a few teams have five games left) in the conference season, the Grizzlies and Wildcats have a two-game lead on the rest of the conference in the loss column.

Looking down a little further in the league standings, a two-game gap has developed between the Big Sky’s “middle of the pack” (EWU, ISU, Idaho, UND, MSU) and the Big Sky’s “soft underside” (UNC, PSU, Sac).

That’s why I’ll call the past few days of Big Sky basketball SEPARATION WEEK. It’s very dramatic. But in reality, things have started to fall into place. With three weeks left in the regular season, we know …

1) Either Montana or Weber State are going to take the overall No. 1 seed in the postseason*.

2) Eastern Washington is a threat to repeat because it has the conference’s best offense. The Eagles (conference-only stats) lead the league in OE (120.6), eFG% (59.9), TO% (16.0) and 2P% (59.0).

3. After a taking a big step forward a season ago, the Thunderbirds are back at the bottom of the standings this year because they stink on defense. In conference games only, SUU ranks last in the Big sky in DE (120.6), eFG% (59.4), OR% (32.5), 2P% (55.7) and 3P% (44.7).

4) Montana doesn’t lead the Big Sky in a single KenPom conference-only statistic. The Grizzlies, however, are starting down at the rest of the league in the standings because they’re good at just about everything. UM defends well (third in eFG% defense at 49.3) and, led by Martin Breunig’s 19.6 points a night, the Griz can score at a high rate (second in eFG% offense at 57.5).

5) This is still the single-greatest moment of the season (avert your eyes, Wildcats) …

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Eastern Washington guard Austin McBroom. In two wins, the senior transfer averaged 36 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists while shooting 19 off 33 from the field, 12 of 20 from 3 and 22 of 25 from the free-throw line.

GAME OF THE WEEK coming up: Montana State at Montana, Saturday, 7 p.m. MST. It’s Cat-Griz. ’Nuff said.

TEAM TO WATCH CLOSELY THIS WEEK: Idaho. The Vandals finish the season with three straight games in Moscow, but before that they head to Portland State and Sac State. Win both and Idaho is suddenly thrust into serious consideration for a top-four spot in the postseason (and the perk of a first-round bye*).

Kyle Franko

*obligatory #RoadtoReno
*obligatory #RoadtoReno

1 comment:

  1. Really thought SUU was going to be a factor for the top four this year. With all the young guys the last two years, this should have been the leap year. Too bad to see these struggles...