06
Jan
11

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:

Montana
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

Weber State
RPI 188
Preseason Record: 3-5 (only D-1 schools)
Conference Record: 0-2
Conference Home/Road Breakthrough Number: 0
The Case for Them: Weber was the consensus top team in the league by just about everyone, until reigning Big Sky MVP and future pro Damian Lillard was lost for the season due to injury. Still, though, the cupboard is hardly bare for Weber as they have one of the more talented rosters in the league. It is hard to call Weber a sleeper but I think as they adjust to playing without Lillard they could have a huge upside. Try to get your victories early on Weber, because they are going to be tough by season end.

RPI Projected Conference Record: 8-8

Northern Colorado
RPI 190
Preseason Record: 2-7 (only D-1 schools)
Conference Record: 2-0
Conference Home/Road Breakthrough Number: +2
The Case for Them: A new coach for Northern Colorado has not seemed to affect them one bit. They did not have an outstanding non-conference, but as soon as conference stated last week they became the first team to get two road victories. No. Col. is pushing the ball more this year and that suits the BSC leading scorer Devon Beitzel just fine. They have excellent talent that is suited more for conference than the Non-Conference so it is not out of the picture for them to push for the league crown.

RPI Projected Conference Record: 10-6

Third Tier

Portland State
RPI 262
Preseason Record: 6-5 (only D-1 schools)
Conference Record: 1-1
Conference Home/Road Breakthrough Number: 0
The Case for Them: PSU is the conference spoiler this season. Due to NCAA APR violations they are ineligible to play for the conference championship. The same violations have knocked a few scholarships from their roster. PSU has some very talented players at the top of their roster that could keep them in a lot of games but the talent level drops off really quickly.

RPI Projected Conference Record: 9-7

Idaho State
RPI 261
Preseason Record: 2-8 (only D-1 schools)
Conference Record: 1-1
Conference Home/Road Breakthrough Number: -1
The Case for Them: ISU is a rags and riches type of story. They do have a couple very talented players on their roster in Broderick Gilchrest and Deividas Busma, but the talent drops off real quick. They are big though and they could cause some trouble for some teams, but I really see them as a middle of the pack team at best.

RPI Projected Conference Record: 5-11

Eastern Washington
RPI 324
Preseason Record: 1-8 (only D-1 schools)
Conference Record: 1-1
Conference Home/Road Breakthrough Number: -1
The Case for Them: Eastern Washington had to play with out their best player Glenn Dean for most of the Non-Conference season, but he is back now. With Dean back EWU could boast one of the more young dynamic three guard line up in Dean, Forbes and Winford. They do not though have much for interior players though. If I can not call Weber my sleeper than I will call Eastern Washington my sleeper. There is huge room for improvement through conference. If they can reach their potential and hit their three they could make some notice by the end of the season.

RPI Projected Conference Record: 4-12

Sacramento State
RPI 345
Preseason Record: 1-8 (only D-1 schools)
Conference Record: 1-1
Conference Home/Road Breakthrough Number:-2
The Case for Them: I can not make a case for them other than Sac State has always had a way of turning a basketball game into a football game. If they can do that they have a chance. Their RPI is 345 that is dead last in Division 1. They have only 1 D-1 win and the weakest non-conference schedule in the league. To top it off my favorite player for their team and only true big man on the team is out due to injury. Another long season for my

RPI Projected Conference Record: 2-14

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