Big Sky Tournament Preview

The Big Sky tournament kicks off this week kicks off on Thursday with all games in Ogden, Utah, site of top seeded Weber State. The field is heavily slanted towards the Wildcats winning, with the semifinals getting re-seeded so that they get to face the lowest remaining seed, and of course getting to host all of the games.

They're a fairly heavy favorite statistically as well:

Team Pace PPP PPP allowed EM
Weber State 63.7 1.12 1.03 0.09
Northern Colorado 63.3 1.18 1.13 0.05
Montana 60.2 1.13 1.09 0.04
Northern Arizona 62.7 1.09 1.06 0.03
Eastern Washington 68.7 1.11 1.09 0.02
Sacramento St 62.9 1.12 1.10 0.02
Idaho St 63.5 1.09 1.08 0.01
North Dakota 67 1.09 1.08 0.01
Portland St 64.9 1.09 1.09 0.00
Montana St 64 1.02 1.08 -0.06
Southern Utah 64.2 0.93 1.14 -0.21

Weber State's Davion Berry posted a 64.7% true shooting percentage while using nearly 30% of his teams possessions, and thus is a pretty hefty favorite for conference player of the year. But right behind him should be North Dakota's Troy Huff. Huff has always carried a large weight of his team's offense, but this year added efficiency to the mix, shooting 52% from two. Huff also rebounds very well for a guard, and has one of the best steal rates in the entire country. Even as a 2 seed, North Dakota is a bit of an afterthought in this one due to how much better they play at home, and if they want to make the tournament, Huff will have to play very well all weekend.

The sleeper here is Northern Colorado. Though they finished in a tie for fifth in the league, they were second in efficiency margin to Weber State and they have the type of offense that I love. They turned it over a lot, but pounded it inside over and over again and were rewarded by shooting 55% inside the arc, which led the conference. They were horrendous defensively, but all it takes is for their opponent (especially if they get Weber State in the semis) to have one bad day from outside and Northern Colorado could see themselves playing for a conference title.

I think Weber State will take it on their home turf, as has happened the last 3 years, but the fact that they're extremely likely to see at least one of the six teams they lost to in league play adds some intrigue to this conference tournament.