Just a Fool’s Hope
Northern Colorado lost to Weber State tonight, 88-71. It was a competitive contest for most of the game, but Weber was the superior team, and pulled away in the end. A full recap will follow in a day or two. Above is a video of the team’s lone senior, Mike Proctor, getting a standing ovation — and getting teary-eyed — as he left his home floor for the last time, in the game’s final minute.
The Bears’ loss, coupled with a win by Eastern Washington and a loss by Sacramento State, clarifies the picture in terms of what UNC needs to earn a Big Sky tournament berth. They’re not eliminated yet, but now they need an absolutely perfect sequence of events — a single deviation, a single unwanted result, will eliminate them. Here is the sequence, with the KenPom odds of each result: [FRIDAY MORNING UPDATE: Percentages have been updated to reflect new KenPom data.]
Saturday 2/25, 7pm: Montana beats Montana State (at Montana) [94%]
Saturday 2/25, 7pm: Eastern Washington beats Portland State (at PSU) [34%]
Monday 2/27, 7pm: Northern Arizona beats Montana State (at MSU) [16%]
Tuesday 2/28, 7pm: Eastern Washington beats Idaho State (at EWU) [85%]
Tuesday 2/28, 8pm: Northern Colorado beats Portland State (at PSU) [25%]
To determine the odds of multiple events all happening, you multiply percentages together. So the odds UNC won’t be eliminated by the end of Saturday are 94% x 34%, or 32%.
The odds UNC will remain alive at the end of the day Monday — meaning that they’ll take the floor Tuesday still having a shot at the tournament — are 94% x 34% x 16%, or just over 5% (5.1% to be exact).
The odds of UNC getting all the help it needs — i.e., the Saturday and Monday results, plus EWU over ISU on Tuesday (in a game that tips an hour before UNC’s game) — are just 4.3%. In other words, there is roughly a 1-in-23 chance that Northern Colorado can play its way into the Big Sky tourney by beating Portland State.
Moreover, there’s just a 25% chance UNC will beat Portland State, per KenPom, which makes the overall chances of making the tourney a meager 1.1%. But if you want to think of Northern Colorado as “controlling its destiny,” then 4.3% is the number you care about. That’s the percentage chance that the Bears will have their fate in their own hands Tuesday night.
If all four needed results happen, UNC could potentially know around halftime of the Portland State game that it’s a win-and-they’re-in situation.