Northern Colorado fights for its Big Sky life
While Denver battles for a #3 seed in the Sun Belt, and tries to at least avoid an opening-round game in the SBC tourney, Colorado’s other mid-major team, Northern Colorado — which I’ve been sorely neglecting on this blog (sorry!), due to being overly busy and barely having time to follow DU — is trying to avoid being prematurely eliminated from the postseason altogether.
One season after making its first-ever NCAA Tournament, UNC is in danger of having its conference title defense end in a regular-season loss. The Big Sky only allows the top 6 of its 9 teams into the conference tourney, and right now, after 6 losses in their last 7 games, the Bears are 4-8 in league play, tied for seventh place. In other words, if the season ended today, they’d be on the outside looking in.
The good news is, there is a whole cluster of teams above them with 6 losses, some of whom are going to have to lose some games. Here are the standings right now:
Weber State 11-1
Portland State 6-6
Montana State 6-6
Idaho State 6-6
Eastern Washington 5-6
Sacramento State 4-8
Northern Colorado 4-8
Northern Arizona 1-12
Northern Colorado has four conference games left: at home against Montana State tomorrow (which I’ll be at, celebrating #ALLCAPSDAY by tweeting in ALL CAPS), at Eastern Washington on February 15, at home vs. Weber State on February 25, and at Portland State at February 28.
I’m not going to bother with tiebreakers and scenarios at this point, with so many teams clustered together and a bunch of games to go. But with all of the six relevant teams having 4 or 5 games left, many of them against one another, I think it’s fair to assume that one or more of those 6-loss teams will end up with 8 or 9 losses before it’s all over. So UNC still has a chance. But they need to win, and win, and win. Indeed, they very well may need to win out, including against the class of the conference, Weber State. That’ll be a huge challenge. But first things first: they simply must end their losing streak tomorrow in Greeley against Montana State. Lose that, and it’s pretty much all over for the Bears.