2019 Big Sky Tournament Betting Odds, Preview: Star Guards Could Create Chaos in Bracket

2019 Big Sky Tournament Betting Odds, Preview: Star Guards Could Create Chaos in Bracket article feature image
Credit:

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Montana guard Michael Oguine

  • The 2019 Big Sky Tournament tips off in Boise on Wednesday, March 13 with three first-round matchups.
  • The top five seeds, which all received a bye into the quarterfinals, will all take the court on Thursday on Pluto TV.
  • Defending champion Montana (+140) has an extremely experienced squad that enters the tourney as the clear favorite.

The Big Sky has been one of the chalkier mid-major conference tournaments over the past decade. Seven of the past eight champions have been the No. 1 overall seed. And the other one? The No. 2 seed.

That bodes well for defending champion Montana and 2018 CIT champion Northern Colorado, who met in a thriller in last year’s Big Sky tourney semifinal that the Grizzlies pulled out 91-89.

That said, this year’s field has a number of teams with star guards that can potentially carry their squads to a surprise title in Boise. Let’s take a closer look at the two top seeds and then dive into some of those potential sleepers to see which might have value in the futures market.

2019 Big Sky Tournament Odds, Format

  • Who: All 11 Big Sky teams
  • Format: Top five seeds get first round bye
  • When: March 13-16
  • Where: Boise, Idaho
  • How to Watch: Pluto TV, ELEVEN, ESPNU
  • Defending Champion: Montana

Who Should Win?

The top two seeds, Montana or Northern Colorado, which met in last year’s Big Sky semifinals, are the clear favorites to grab the 2019 Big Sky’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Montana (+140) has the league’s top offense, led by outstanding senior guards Michael Oguine and Ahmaad Rorie. The Grizzlies are extremely balanced, as they have five players that average between nine and 16 points per game. They are also absolutely deadly from 3-point range.

The Grizzlies will also dominate the glass on most nights, as they rank second in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage. Montana also has the fifth-most experienced team in country. This team is battle-tested and can draw on their experience of winning this tournament last season.

No. 2 seed Northern Colorado (+250) doesn’t have balance like Montana, but it does have senior guard Jordan Davis, who can absolutely fill it up at 23.8 ppg. The Las Vegas native has dropped at least 30 five times this season and the Bears go as he goes, as their next leading-scorer only averages 10.7 ppg.

Northern Colorado, which should benefit from the experience of winning the CIT last season, makes its living on the defensive end. It ranks first in Adjusted Deficiency Efficiency during Big Sky play.

On offense, the Bears are very deliberate and shoot a ton of triples – even though they aren’t great from behind the arc. They have also struggled from line during league play.

The defense will be there, but NoCol is one off-night from Davis from being bounced from this tourney.

Neither would be a surprise winner, but Montana is the more complete team, ranking first in both offensive and defensive efficiency during league play. The Grizzlies also don’t rely on any one player.

Potential Sleeper

Portland State 15-1

As I stated above, the Big Sky has plenty of teams with star guards who can go off on any given night. And when they do, those teams are capable of beating any other team in the conference on any given night. I already mentioned Jordan Davis of Northern Colorado, but there are three others worth mentioning:

  • Montana State (8-1) senior guard Taylor Hall (20.5 ppg) can score with the best of them in the Big Sky.
  • Jerrick Harding (21.9 ppg) can also get his at will for Weber State (5-1). Just ask Montana State, which saw Harding go for 46 at the end of last season.
  • Sophomore point guard Holland Woods does it all for Portland State, as he showed when he dropped 28 in a road win at top seed Montana.

I really think only the top six seeds have a realistic shot. The only one I haven’t mentioned is Eastern Washington. EWU has great balance and does a lot of good things on both ends, but I’m not sold on the Eagles’ chances.

Out of the four teams seeded 3-6, I’m most interested in the team with the most-generous odds: Portland State at 15-1. The Vikings have an extremely tough path, starting with Weber State and then likely a date with Montana. However, this is a team that won at Weber State this year in a series split — and swept Montana, handing the Grizz two of their four conference losses.

PSU really struggles to defend at times, which might be its downfalll, but “Boo Boo” Woods is an extremely talented point guard who can carry the Vikings to the finals by beating two teams it went a combined 3-1 against. They will also crash the offensive glass, where they led the conference in percentage, giving themselves plenty of second chance looks.

We might see Northern Colorado and Montana in the final in a conference tourney that has been dominated by the top seeds, but a few star guards could cause chaos in the bracket. I’ll side with the one priced at 15-1.

 

How would you rate this article?