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Big Sky Notebook

February 12, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Big Sky Notebook

by Nicholas Lozito

Wildcats, Boyette deserve NCAA berth

OK, let’s face it. Weber State (18-5 overall, 8-0 in Big Sky Conference) is going to take the conference crown and, barring any major upsets, win the conference tournament. And that’s a good thing.

Why? Because the Wildcats are the only Big Sky team with a legitimate chance to advance in the NCAA Tournament. Shooting guard Jermaine Boyette and forward Slobodan Ocokoljic are conference’s best 1-2 punch, while guard John Hamilton provides a solid No. 3 scorer. No, the Wildcats aren’t capable of making it past the second round, but even getting there would bring some sense of joy to the conference.

There would merely be no sense in sending a Cinderella team like Northern Arizona (12-9, 3-5) to the NCAA Tourney, just to see them lose to a No. 1 seed by 50. At least the Wildcats might get a No. 13 or 14 seed, and therefore draw a beatable opponent.

Beyond the fact that the Wildcats are the only team with a chance to win a first-round game, it would also be a shame for Boyette, a two-time first team all-conference selection, to graduate without a tournament appearance. Boyette was the conference’s scoring and steals leader last season.

After waxing Idaho State (11-10, 4-4) in a home-and-home series last week, the only legitimate threat to Weber’s NCAA bid are the Eastern Washington Eagles (15-8, 7-2), who sit 1-1/2 games behind the Wildcats. Eastern Washington has a group of solid, gritty players, but lacks the one star which Weber has two of. The Eagles have fallen in the conference championship game each of the past two seasons.

Sixth place battle heats up

The Northern Arizona Lumberjacks took sole possession of the sixth-and-final tournament spot last week with a 63-45 thumping of Sacramento State (8-13, 2-6) in Sacramento. Kelly Golob finished the game with seventeen points for Northern Arizona.

The ‘Jacks now sit one game ahead of Sac State and 1 ½ games ahead of eighth place Portland State (4-18, 2-7).

Sac State and Northern Arizona face the exact same schedule the rest of the season. Both teams face Eastern Washington and Portland State at home, then travel the following week to face Idaho State and Weber State. They then finish the season with a homestand against Montana (10-14, 4-5) and Montana State (10-12, 4-5).

The Lumberjacks own the tie-breaker over Sac State, but it is very hard to explain exactly why.

OK, I’ll tell you. The first tie-breaker is who won the head-to-head match-up. With that tied at one game apiece we move on to the second tie-breaker, which team has the better record against the conference’s No. 1 seed, Weber State. Neither team has beaten the Wildcats, so we move to the third tie-breaker, which team has the better record against the No. 2 seed, Eastern Washington. Neither team has beaten the Eagles, so we move to the fourth tie-breaker, which team has the better record against the No. 3 seed, Idaho State. Northern Arizona holds a 1-0 record over Idaho State while Sac State is 0-1, hence the Lumberjacks hold the tie-breaker. Hey! You asked.

But if the seeds were to change, every thing I just typed would become irrelevant.

Player of the Week

Jermaine Boyette averaged 21 points and 2.5 steals in two wins over Idaho State last week.

Game of the Week

I’m feelin’ upset. Montana will hand Weber State their first conference loss on Thursday when the Wildcats travel to the Big Sky State. Prediction: Montana 87, Weber State 85 in 2-OT.


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