Conference Tournament Primer: Big Sky ConferencePosted by Adam Stillman on March 13th, 2014
Championship Fortnight continues with the last five conference tourneys tipping off today, so what better way to get you through the final push of games than to break down each of the Other 26′s postseason events. Today, the O26 tourneys starting are the Big Sky, Big West, Sun Belt and WAC.
Dates: March 13-15
Site: At regular-season champion (Weber State)
What to expect: About half the league could win the Big Sky’s automatic bid this year. Every team in the conference suffered at least six losses, led by regular season champion Weber State at 14-6. In an odd twist, only seven of the league’s 11 teams participate in the conference tournament. Montana, last year’s representative in the NCAA Tournament, along with Northern Arizona and Northern Colorado pose the biggest threats. But don’t expect too much from the Big Sky’s team in the Big Dance. The First Four in Dayton and an early exit seem in order.
Favorite: Weber State. Yes, I’m still making the Wildcats the favorite despite stumbling down the stretch. They lost two of their last three games, and four of their last seven. Yikes. But with the parity in this conference — every other team had at least eight league losses — the home court advantage here makes Weber State the favorite. The Wildcats lost just one home game in league play.
Darkhorse: Northern Colorado. The Bears absolutely destroyed the rest of the league on offense this season. Northern Colorado scored 117.9 points per 100 possessions in conference play, more than four points better than the second-best group (Montana, 113.4). That could be enough to steal the automatic bid. Plus the sixth-seeded Bears wouldn’t meet Weber State until the finals.
Who wins: Weber State. The Wildcats are the only team in the seven-team league tourney to earn a bye to the semifinals. Weber State is one of the best three-point shooting teams in the land, ranking 19th in the nation by hitting 39.1 percent of its long-range attempts. If they’re falling, Weber State will go dancing. If only Harold “The Show” Arceneaux could find a missing year of eligibility and lead the Wildcats to an NCAA Tournament win once they’re there.
Player to watch: Davion Berry, Weber State. The 6’4″ senior can do a little bit of everything. He plays both guard and forward while averaging 19.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. He shoots 48 percent from the field, 38 percent from beyond the arc, and 81 percent from the free throw line. The Big Sky MVP should lead his team to the Big Dance.
Bubble implications: None