Difficult Montana road trip stands in way of University of North Dakota men's basketball team's bye
MISSOULA, Mont. -- Four teams are tied for third place in the Big Sky Conference with two games remaining in league play.The only thing for certain is that two of the four won't get a first-round bye at next week's Big Sky postseason tournament i...
MISSOULA, Mont. - Four teams are tied for third place in the Big Sky Conference with two games remaining in league play.
The only thing for certain is that two of the four won’t get a first-round bye at next week’s Big Sky postseason tournament in Reno, Nev.
UND, Idaho, Eastern Washington and Idaho State all have 10-6 Big Sky records as league play resumes tonight. UND, despite winning three in a row, may be the longshot to earn a top-four finish and the first-round bye that goes with it.
The Fighting Hawks (15-12 overall) are at Montana tonight and Montana State on Saturday.
“It’s the toughest road swing in the Big Sky,” said UND coach Brian Jones. “Both teams are always tough and both always have great crowds.”
Multiple scenarios exist as to what may happen tonight and Saturday regarding the four teams in the mix for a first-round bye. UND could win its final two games and yet finish out of the top four.
“There are so many moving parts,” added Jones. “There just isn’t an easy game for any of the four teams involved in this mix. We’ll have to win at least one game to give us a chance, but I’m thinking we’re going to have to win two to secure it.
“But in the end, it really doesn’t matter. You’re going to have to win three games in three days or four games in (five) days against quality teams.
“And, as we’ve seen this year, any team can win any game. That’s what’s exciting about the league this year.”
Weber State (14-2, 22-7) is in first place heading into the final week but the Wildcats, who are without injured standout Joel Bolomboy, hit the road for their final two games. Montana is in second place at 13-3 (18-9 overall). The Griz also are 11-1 at home this season.
Weber and Montana appear to be in good shape for the top two seeds in next week’s tournament. The next four spots are up for grabs.
Despite UND’s demanding trip to close the regular season, the Hawks have been playing as well as any Big Sky team the past few weeks.