Mon., Feb. 1, 2016
A look at Idaho, EWU in race for Big Sky tourney bye
As many as seven teams are bundled in position to grab what is likely two available spots in the Big Sky Conference's top four, garnering a bye into the quarterfinals of the Big Sky's 12-team tournament in Reno, Nevada.
The Pacific Northwest will be heavily involved.
At the half-way mark of the conference schedule Idaho, Eastern Washington and Idaho State are all in contention for one of the final two spots to receive a first-round bye, assuming Montana and Weber State maintain position as the top two squads.
The surprise squad is Idaho State. The Bengals began the season 4-10 against Division I schools, but have reeled off four straight wins in conference play. Idaho State is 4-1 in Big Sky play at home, including a 69-68 upset win over Weber State in Pocatello.
Eastern Washington has recovered from being swept in its opening road trip of the season, winning five of its last seven. The Eagles are 5-0 at home and 0-4 away from Cheney in Big Sky play. A trip to bottom-of-the-standings Southern Utah and Northern Arizona is forthcoming for the reigning Big Sky Tournament champions.
And then there's Idaho. The Vandals have split their last six contests without starting point guard Perrion Callandret and Saturday won for the first time in three tries without leading scorer Victor Sanders. The Vandals beat Portland State 56-55 Saturday night to stay above .500 in Big Sky play.
Here is how KenPom's data expects the race for fourth to play out.
4t - Idaho, 10-8
4t - North Dakota, 10-8
6 - Idaho State, 9-9
7t - Portland State, 8-10
7t - Montana State, 8-10
7t - Northern Colorado, 8-10