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.

RPI 233
Preseason Record: 4-8 (only D-1 schools)
The Case for Them: Montana has had one of the roughest preseason in recent memory, still I think you would be hard pressed to find any Big Sky Conference followers who are ready to count out the Griz as a possibly hosting the tournament come March. Only Portland State can come even close to the talent level Montana has from top to bottom. Montana also has the best home court advantage as any team in the conference. Then you add the dean of Big Sky coaches Robin Selvig’s and you know that the Griz will be a contender come March. The Lady Griz weakness is at the point. True freshman Hill and Nelson are very talented, players but inconsistent. As they improve so do the Griz fortunes.

Second Tier

Eastern Washington
RPI 269
Preseason Record: 2-8 (only D-1 schools)
The Case for Them: As much as Idaho State surprised me for their success, EWU has shocked me with how poorly they are performing. EWU also had a brutal preseason schedule, but still they should have had a better record than they do. EWU has the reigning league MVP returning to go along with the co- defensive player of the year, and they lost only two players off a team that took the league crown last year. When all is said and done it is hard for me to imagine they are not challenging for the league crown again.

Sacramento State
RPI 292
Preseason Record: 3-10 (only D-1 schools)
The Case for Them: Sacramento State may not have the most talented team in the conference but they do play a type of game that could cause fits for some of the upper tier teams. Sac St has always played a scrappy hustling style of basketball that could cause trouble for teams with questionable guard play (are you listening Montana State and Montana). They will be a factor in determining who wins the league but they are not yet ready to challenge for the top spot.

Northern Arizona
RPI 247
Preseason Record: 4-8 (only D-1 schools)
The Case for Them: NAU is an up and coming team in the conference, but is this their year, probably not. They have outstanding young talent, played a good preseason schedule so I expect them to pull some good upsets this season but I think they are a year away from reaching their potential.

Northern Colorado
RPI 270
Preseason Record: 4-8 (only D-1 schools)
The Case for Them: Northern Colorado is still building their program they hope and retooling after the graduation Whitley Cox.

Weber State
RPI 302
Preseason Record: 3-8 (only D-1 schools)
The Case for Them: With the worse RPI in the conference, the easiest preseason schedule in the conference and only 3 wins to show for itself this could be a very long season for the Wildcats.


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