Archive for January, 2011


Big Sky Conference MBB Preview

The Men’s Big Sky season is a week old, but still I thought I might take a look at the preseason and who are the top teams going into the conference. I have listed the current RPI of each team as well as their preseason and conference records. Additionally I have listed the “Conference Home/Road Breakthrough” number for each team.

Additionally this has been the number most Big Sky coaches have used to determine who is actually leading the league. The league title is won by defending your home court and getting road breakthroughs. In this system +1 point is awarded for every road victory, 0 points are awarded for every home win, 0 points for every road loss and -1 point is awarded for every home loss. According to the Home / Road Breakthrough numbers Northern Colorado is currently leading the league already with 2 road victories last week.

At the end of each team review I have posted what the current RPI projections of what each teams final conference record should be

Top Tier:

RPI 111
Preseason Record: 6-4 (only D-1 schools)
Conference Record: 2-0
Conference Home/Road Breakthrough Number: 0
The Case for Them: With Lillard out at Weber, Montana goes down as my favorite to host the league tornement. They have two big stars in Qvale and Cherry. Cherry can score 30 points on any given night and is a monster on defense, while Qvale can get you 15 points and 10 rebounds every night. The Griz also have a nice group of supporting players who can fill it up and know there roles. The Griz though can struggle when Qvale get into foul trouble, which he can do often, as after Selvig they get rather thin with quality big men. Still though they have the best RPI in the conference, and sport a marquee victory over Famed UCLA as well as fellow Pac-10 team Oregon State. Thursday’s road game again Northern Colorado is going to be an early key match-up in the Big Sky.

RPI Projected Conference Record: 11-5

Northern Arizona
RPI 122
Preseason Record: 6-4 (only D-1 schools)
Conference Record: 0-2
Conference Home/Road Breakthrough Number: 0
The Case for Them: Two first week road losses to Montana and Montana State may have taken a little wind out of NAU sails but don’t sell them short they will be a contender by season end. In this league any team that features a player (guard Cameron Jones) who is garnering some NBA attention and a roster that welcomes back most of the key players from last years team is going to be in the hunt for the league crown. NAU played a tough non-conf schedule and finished on the plus side of .500. There strength is also their weakness NAU starts 4 guards and 1 big man, and they really do not play any of their other big men significant minute. If they can control the tempo they are tough, but they can have trouble with bigger team who can pound the ball in low.

RPI Projected Conference Record: 13-3

Second Tier

Montana State
RPI 197
Preseason Record: 4-6 (only D-1 schools)
Conference Record: 2-0
Conference Home/Road Breakthrough Number: 0
The Case for Them: Hot, cold, young, old the Bobcats could be the most Jeckle and Hyde team in the conference. The Bobcats’ were somewhat inconsistent in the preseason, but seem to pull it together the first week of conference. The Bobcats feature two all conference type players, a rather nice JC addition, and a couple nice returnees but after that they get real young fast. Howard and Rush are one of the more potent 1 – 2 punches in the league and can dominate a game by themselves. They are not just scores but dominate the stat sheets in rebounding, assists and steals, as well as being strong defensive players. While Rush and Howard are dependable for 32 points, 12 rebounds 5 assists and 3-4 steals a game the true key to the Bobcats season is going to be the improvement of he supporting cast. In order for the Bobcats to keep pace with the league leaders the other players are going to need to show consistent improvement through out the next two months. If not the Bobcats could flame out as Howard and Rush reach their limits. The Bobcats also need to prove they can win on the road.

RPI Projected Conference Record: 10-6

Continue reading ‘Big Sky Conference MBB Preview’


Big Sky Conference WBB Preview

The Big Sky Women’s basketball season is about to kick off and I thought I would look at the conference coming into the season.

After the trudging through the preseason I really do not see a clear cut leader going into the conference. Instead I see tier of possible contenders. Here is how I see conference shaking out.

I have only been able to see Montana State and Montana in person this year so my evaluations is based mainly on win / loss records, RPI, team stats as well as their history.

Top Tier:

Portland State
RPI 85
Preseason Record: 5-6 (only D-1 schools)
The Case for Them: If I was forced to pick a favorite team to host the tournament next March I think Portland State would be my pick. PSU had only a 5-6 record against D-1 teams, but they played a brutal schedule ranking 33rd in the nation. PSU boast one of the more talented rosters in the league. In a league with out a clear cut favorite I think this gives them the edge.

Idaho State
RPI 107
Preseason Record: 7-4 (only D-1 schools)
The Case for Them: ESPN Bracketology has picked Idaho State as earning the Conference automatic bid based mainly on them finishing the preseason with the best Win/Loss record. ISU is definitely playing better than I had expected, and ISU over the past 10 or so years has a history of out performing expectations. Still though their preseason schedule was not as rigorous as the other top contenders so we will need to keep a close eye on them the first couple of weeks of conference.

Montana State
RPI 156
Preseason Record: 6-8 (only D-1 schools)
The Case for Them: Whatever Coach Binford’s plans for her team were in early November, by December they were thrown out the window and she was retooling after a rash of injuries and one suspension. The Bobcats were especially hurt at the point guard position where all of the players lost, were expected to contribute. They took their lumps in the middle of the preseason but last week it looked like the pieces were coming back together when they upset BYU at home. The Bobcats will not be that deep this year but they have a ton of fire power with multiple scoring options. The key for them, though, will be taking care of the other stuff, rebounding, defense and most importantly taking care of the ball. Every team in the conference is going to press the Bobcats guards and prove they can take care of the ball. The Bobcats had the second toughest preseason schedule in the conference so they are tested. I believe the Bobcats, when on their game, are capable of dominating any team in the conference, but with their lack of depth could get into trouble against almost any team in the league.

Continue reading ‘Big Sky Conference WBB Preview’

January 2011
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