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Big Sky tourney starts Saturday

Montana, Idaho State host first round games

OGDEN — Montana and Idaho State will host first-round games in the Big Sky men's basketball tournament this weekend.

As the No. 3 seed, Montana will be at home Saturday against sixth-seeded Sacramento State. Fifth-seeded Northern Arizona will visit No. 4 Idaho State on Saturday.

The winners will advance to the semifinals to face either No. 2 Eastern Washington or top-seeded Weber State on Tuesday, March 11, in Ogden. Weber State got the No. 1 seed and home court by going 14-0 in the Big Sky, the first team to go undefeated since the Wildcats were 15-0 in 1969.

The winner of Wednesday's championship will get the Big Sky's automatic berth in the NCAA tournament.

"We've got to win two more games, It's as simple as that," Weber State coach Joe Cravens said. Even if the Wildcats should lose, there's talk of at-large consideration. Cravens, however, is realistic.

"I feel we've got to win the Big Sky Tournament to go to the NCAA," he said. "I have no confidence that if we lost the conference tournament we would still get an NCAA bid."

The only other team to win out in the conference was also Weber State, which did it back in 1968-69 under current Utah Jazz assistant Phil Johnson.

The Wildcats extended their winning streak to 15 games, second only in the country to No. 2 Kentucky's streak of 18 games.

"We won 18 games last year and we had almost our whole team back," Cravens said. "So I knew we were going to be good. We have great chemistry."