Ogden • If the regular season is an indication, the most wide-open Big Sky tournament in years opens Thursday at the Dee Events Center.
Host Weber State is the top seed after finishing 16-11 overall and 14-6 in the conference, but coach Randy Rahe isn’t sure that means much.
Big Sky Tournament
2 p.m. » No. 2 North Dakota vs. No. 7 Sacramento State
4:30 p.m. » No. 3 Northern Arizona vs. No. 6 Northern Colorado
7 p.m. » No. 4 Montana vs. No. 5 Portland State
4:30 p.m. » Highest remaining seed vs. second-highest remaining seed
7 p.m. » No. 1 Weber State vs. lowest remaining seed
6 p.m. » Championship game
"There’s as much parity in our league as I’ve ever seen," he said. "There’s not a lot of difference between the teams that are here and some of the teams that didn’t make it — the Idaho States, the Montana States and the Eastern Washingtons."
As the regular-season champion, Weber State draws a bye into Friday night’s semifinals.
In the opening round, No. 2 North Dakota faces No. 7 Sacramento State, No. 3 Northern Arizona plays No. 6 Northern Colorado and No. 4 Montana battles No. 5 Portland State.
In the Big Sky regular-season race, only two games separated second and eighth place.
"Everybody has good players and everybody seems to be playing well," Rahe said. "I expect every game to be a tough, close game. It should be exciting."
In eight seasons under Rahe, Weber State is 63-5 in Big Sky non-tournament home games. The Wildcats have lost to only one league opponent in the last three years. Northern Arizona scored a 73-71 overtime victory two weeks ago.
The loss could have cost Weber its regular-season title and No. 1 seed but, last Saturday, the ’Cats held off a late Eastern Washington rally and prevailed, 82-78.
"We played pretty good," Rahe said. "… I was really pleased with the way we defended. We got a little screwed up at the end of the game because of their pressure but, overall, it was a nice little confidence boost for us."
If Weber State hopes to reach its 15th NCAA Tournament in school history — but the first since 2007 — Big Sky MVP Davion Berry will likely lead the way.
He averages 19.3 points per game, although Rahe cautions that the Wildcats can’t be a one-man show.
"In tournaments," he said, "you better have four or five guys play well. I don’t think one guy will win a tournament. Of course we needed Dav to play well and be the stat-stuffer he’s been all year. But to win a tournament, you need everybody doing their part."
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