The “Bracket” section has been updated.
An Idaho team — that is, Idaho or Idaho State — has appeared in the three most recent Big Sky championship games. Only one, Idaho, has won the title.
Although Montana’s 21 titles are the most of any team in the tournament, the Griz haven’t won since 2015, and they earned a not-so-comfortable seven-seed this season.
But the state of Idaho has a clear path to a fourth consecutive championship game appearance — a fortuitous thing, considering the 2019 tournament is taking place in Boise for the first of three seasons.
There’s even a chance of a rematch of the 2016 title game, which saw Idaho beat Idaho State, 67-55.
Despite the tournament’s location, two-seed Northern Colorado — sandwiched between one-seed Idaho and three-seed Idaho State — cannot be counted out. The Bears not only are the defending Big Sky champions; they went 4-0 against the Idaho schools this season. That said, the Bears suffered losses to the likes of eleven-seed Weber State and, in their most recent game, eight-seed Northern Arizona.
The Big Sky is about as wide-open a conference as its name suggests, crowning five unique champions in the last five years. With the top of the standings crowded all season long, this season’s winner will enter the NCAA Tournament with some well-earned confidence.
When: Monday, March 11 — Friday, March 15
Where: CenturyLink Arena, Boise, ID
How to view: Pluto TV Channel 231, WatchBigSky.com, Eleven Sports (additional coverage for semifinals/championship)
Northern Arizona kicked things off by winning its first conference tournament game since 2007, taking down Sacramento State 74-69. The second game saw the tournament’s first upset, as Southern Utah led for 38 minutes en route to the 64-56 victory over Montana. Finally, Eastern Washington outlasted a solid challenge from Weber State, 81-74, to advance to the quarterfinals.
No. 8 Northern Arizona Lumberjacks vs. No. 9 Sacramento State Hornets
Monday, March 11, 4:30 p.m. ET, Pluto TV Channel 231/WatchBigSky.com
No. 7 Montana Grizzlies vs. No. 10 Southern Utah Thunderbirds
Monday, March 11, 7:30 p.m. ET, Pluto TV Channel 231/WatchBigSky.com
No. 6 Eastern Washington Eagles vs. No. 11 Weber State Wildcats
Monday, March 11, 10 p.m. ET, Pluto TV Channel 231/WatchBigSky.com
Thanks in part to a 36-point second quarter, Idaho rolled past Northern Arizona, 90-73, to move on to the semifinals. Portland State then used its 23-for-25 free-throw shooting to fend off Montana State, 68-56. Northern Colorado ended Southern Utah’s hopes for a second straight upset with a dominant 82-50 victory. And, after nearly being upset in the first round, Eastern Washington pulled off an upset of its own, eliminating Idaho State with a 67-65 overtime win.
No. 1 Idaho Vandals vs. No. 8 Northern Arizona Lumberjacks
Tuesday, March 12, 2 p.m. ET, Pluto TV Channel 231/WatchBigSky.com
No. 4 Portland State Vikings vs. No. 5 Montana State Bobcats
Tuesday, March 12, 4:30 p.m. ET, Pluto TV Channel 231/WatchBigSky.com
No. 2 Northern Colorado Bears vs. No. 10 Southern Utah Thunderbirds
Tuesday, March 12, 7:30 p.m. ET, Pluto TV Channel 231/WatchBigSky.com
No. 3 Idaho State Bengals vs. No. 6 Eastern Washington Eagles
Tuesday, March 12, 10 p.m. ET, Pluto TV Channel 231/WatchBigSky.com
“Upset” was again the word of the day in the Big Sky semifinals. First, Portland State used a solid defensive effort to eliminate top-seeded Idaho, 75-59. Then, Eastern Washington kept its Cinderella story going as the Eagles got past Northern Colorado, 59-57.
No. 1 Idaho Vandals vs. No. 4 Portland State Vikings
Wednesday, March 13, 7:30 p.m. ET, Eleven Sports/Pluto TV Channel 231/WatchBigSky.com
No. 2 Northern Colorado Bears vs. No. 6 Eastern Washington Eagles
Wednesday, March 13, 10 p.m. ET, Eleven Sports/Pluto TV Channel 231/WatchBigSky.com
It took some come-from-behind heroics, but Portland State was able to grab a last-second lead and grab the 61-59 victory over Eastern Washington. Desirae Hansen’s fadeaway jumper with 3.1 seconds to go in the game sealed the win for the Vikings, who won the Big Sky championship for the first time since 2010.
No. 4 Portland State Vikings vs. No. 6 Eastern Washington Eagles
Friday, March 15, 3 p.m. ET, Eleven Sports/Pluto TV Channel 231/WatchBigSky.com