This is going to be a great year for the Big Sky basketball fan and a very rough year for Big Sky coaches. The men’s side of the conference is the strongest I have seen it in a very long time. Who ever finishes second or third may well have won the league in years past. For fans this will mean some very exiting basketball over the next 2 and half month. This will also make for some very frustrated coaches who have put together what they may have thought to be a pretty good team only to see it chewed up during the conference season. If you are a coach on the hot seat, it could be bad news. A team that might have finished 9-7 last year will be lucky to finish 5-11 this year.
First let’s look the preseason polls:
|Coaches’ Poll||Media Poll|
|1||Weber State||1||Weber State|
|3||Idaho State||3||Portland State|
|4||Portland State||4||Idaho State|
|5||Montana State||5||Montana State|
|6||Northern Colorado||6||Northern Colorado|
|7||Northern Arizona||7||Northern Arizona|
|8||Eastern Washington||8||Eastern Washington|
|9||Sacramento State||9||Sacramento State|
Here is where the RPI would rank the team as of 12-31-09
(and before checks it, their win/loss number do not add up)
|RPI||Conf Rank||Team||Projected Record|
Also note that Realtime RPI is projecting that Weber State, Idaho State and Northern Colorado are showing a great deal of improvement as of late. Montana State is a team that they think is showing some improvement while Sac. State and Northern Arizona are teams that seem to be going the other direction.
Ok here are my feelings about the nine Big Sky teams in the order in which they will finish. I am not even going to try to predict final records but I will say that I do not think anyone will get more than 12 wins. The middle of the back will be a log jamb and 2-3 teams are going to end up with very 1-3 wins. Seeding for the tourney will come down to a lot of tie breakers.
Oh yea and I fully admit I am looking at this through blue and gold colored glasses
- Northern Colorado: Since the beginning of the season when N. Colo. shot out to such a great start I have been thinking that they are a team that could fall back a little once conference started. N. Colo. is no doubt a very good team but I had some reservations about them winning the league. After, though, last night win at TCU, I have to give them their due. They have a road victory over Montana already and that might be enough to eventually give them the title.
- Montana: Montana is a very talented team, with a big star and a lot of chemistry that is a good formula to have going into league. I am worried about their depth in the post and any injury there, or to Anthony Johnson could be devastating to their title hopes, though. How Anthony Johnson goes, so will the Griz, I expect both to have a big year.
- Montana State: I do not think the Bobcat’s have reached their potential yet. This is a very mature and tough group of guys, who can and will fight back for the entire 40 minutes. They need to show some offensive consistency through out their top 5-6 players. When this team is on their game they can play with and win against any team in the conference no matter where the venue is. Huse, though, need to prove he can put together a complete season.
- Weber State: Weber has had some what of a disappointing non-conference schedule, but they have done this before and gone on to win the conference. As a Bobcat fan they scare me, they have as much talent as any team in the conference and a big time star in Lillard, and those are the type of teams that do well in conference. Weber has to just put it all together and they could be hosting the tourney.
- Idaho State: Idaho State had the toughest non-conference schedule of any Big Sky teams and their record shows it. ISU has loads of talent, and will be pretty battle tested, I think they could be a team that could really step it up in conference and do much better than people give them credit for.
- Portland State: When Bone left he did not leave the Cupboard bare PSU still has talent off of last years team and they added a couple very nice potential all conf. type recruits. What Bone did take with him though that PSU has not been able to replace is their defense. If you let PSU get into a scoring match with you they have a good chance to win. If PSU figures out how to play a little defense they could end up in the top of the league.
- Northern Arizona: maybe I don’t know NAU as well as I should but this team does not excite me. They have some talent but I just do not see them competing with the top teams in the league day in and day out. Any other year I think this could be a 3rd – 4th place team or better but I think they will struggle to keep their head above water.
- Sacramento State: It is gong to be a tough year for Sac. State, they are building their program, but they do not seem to have enough of the pieces yet in place. They will surprise some folks but it could be another year of taking it on the chin while they continue the rebuilding process.
- Eastern Washington: I really really like a few players on the EWU roster, but they really do not look that good this year. This could be a very tough year for them and their coach
I would not bet ANY money on my predictions but they are fun to do and track. I hope I am not too embarrassed.