The Big Sky

While this is again a conference where I’m pretty sure I’ve watched zero actual minutes of live basketball this season, it’s been good to me. I’ve placed five wagers in the the Big Sky and won every single damn time. The way I have to go about these previews does get me thinking a bit. It’s worked out in a few cases so far, but I will say it’s been odd for me to be breaking down and making a case for some of the top teams in these leagues after betting on the bottom-feeders ATS all season. I guess it’s fair to say there’s a big difference between winning a couple games outright in a row and covering the spread in a mid-January match-up while getting 14.5 points.

What does all that rambling have to do with the Big Sky Conference, you ask? Well, I’ll be making a case for, and placing money on a team that I bet against in four out of those five Big Sky wagers this season.

When and Where: March 13th-16th at the Century Link Arena in beautiful Boise, Idaho.

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Defending Champ: Montana Grizzlies

Who’s Good: Montana

Who’s Sneaky: Northern Colorado, Weber State

Who Stinks Out Loud: Idaho went 2-18 in conference play, a full five games worse than anyone else. Not great.

Coolest Team Nickname: Idaho Vandals. Had to look that one up, and it turns out to be some sort of Eastern European tribe of barbarians from a thousand years ago. It’s like the two dozen teams that just went with “Eagles” as a nickname weren’t even trying.

Seeding and rules: All eleven teams get in, even Idaho. Top five seeds get a first round bye and the entirety of the tournament is played at the neutral site.

Multi-Bid League: While Montana has a good chance at a 14 seed if the chips fall as they may, there’s not a chance of an at large-bid for anyone (including them if they fail to win their way in).

Big Sky bracket.JPG

Breakdown: Montana is clearly the class of the league, but they haven’t been a runaway. While they have four losses in league play, they were all to teams with winning records, the worst being to the five seed, Portland State. They also had a couple of nice early season wins, beating South Dakota State and Georgia State, so I guess I’m fine with making them a favorite. Looking at the bottom half I have a very hard time making a case for the two and three seeds. While Northern Colorado has put a little space between them and the field, the #3 seed, Eastern Washington has the same amount of wins on the year (14) as the #9 seed, Sacramento State. Plus, my model rates them as middle of the pack teams, showing much more love for the Montana teams and even Portland State. History-wise: the #1 seed has won the tournament the past three seasons, and at least made the final the past nine.

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My Pick(s): Just as I talk about trying to keep some consistency in my odds, the Big Sky prices aren’t up at 5Dimes this morning. So, I went dumpster diving for odds at MyBookie. I will again mention that more books have numbers this week, and you should look always look around to find the best number, small gains add up over the course of the year.

I’ll just lay it out, my numbers don’t really like anyone that’s not from Montana. Montana has a much easier path on paper, but I can still certainly make a case that Montana State has a run in them as I mentioned before that I don’t give Northern Colorado and Eastern Washington very high marks. Plus it’s a very tight race through the middle of the league. While Montana State is a six seed they are only one game worse than the three seed they would face in the quarterfinals. Finally, both Montana teams are in the top 50 or so for three point shooting, another thing I love in a team when it comes to tournament play. I’ll trust my numbers, and hope for a “Big Sky Country” final.

Montana +130 (0.75x)

Montana State +1100 (0.2x)