Weber State at Montana State (Big Sky)
Brick Breeden Fieldhouse - Bozeman, MT
9:05 PM EST
One of the first conference games we attended this season was between Northern Colorado and Idaho State
, an early Big Sky test for both. Since then, there hasn't been much mention here of the only league to be named after a book
. The biggest reason for that is that this was a very short tome indeed, one that was over before the first chapter. In a league that was supposed to be run by defending champion Portland State, it's Weber State that ran away and hid like Boone Caudill.
The Wildcats (20-8, 14-1), aiming for their second NCAA bid in three years, are on an 11-game win streak. They've been the best offensive and defensive team in the conference and have won their league games by an average of 11 points, but the secret of Weber State's success this season is found in some very geeky numbers. True shooting percentage
is a measure of a team's overall accuracy that takes into account all types of shots (the formula: PTS / (2 * (FGA + 0.44 * FTA))
); the Wildcats rank a hyper-impressive fourth nationally in that category, as the ball goes in the basket 59.9 percent of the time, whether it's a free throw, field goal or 3. It's a team with some strong senior leadership, too. Mini-giant Kellen McCoy
(5-6) and Daviin Davis
, both productive juco transfers, score in double figures and shoot at least 60 percent in TS% individually.
Weber is 14-1 in the Sky, and that single loss occurred on its home floor Jan. 15... to the very same Bobcat squad that will host tonight's return affair. That 75-70
decision was a rare even match for the rampaging Wildcats, and Montana State (6-9) was simply able to overcome its league-worst offense by getting to the line more often, converting 19 foul shots (of 25) against Weber's 12-of-15 foul-shooting performance. It was also a revenge match for Weber's elimination win in the chalky
2008 Big Sky tourney -- the Wildcats won by 16
in the 3/6 quarterfinal. That was the latest loss in a long, long stretch of March madness (the angry kind) for MSU, as the Bobcats have not won a single conference tournament game since 1999. They haven't put themselves in a good position to end that streak in 2009 -- with the seeds set in stone for the conference tourney, Montana State is in sixth position and locked into a first-round matchup at the hated in-state rival
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