Having just cleared the two month mark of self-mostly-isolation, I’ll admit to being tired of the continuing swirl of possibilities and proposals that make the rounds daily about pro and college sports. So, up front, I’m awfully happy to be able to talk about something that is set. Granted, things can change as we maneuver through this time, but we know some key things about the coming Big Sky athletic seasons.
The top headline is that both men’s and women’s basketball is going back to a 16-game schedule this coming season. Just two years removed from this scheduling makeup, the adjustment won’t be dramatic.
Travel considerations are going to be a huge part of the work the conference will put in to the schedule, meaning Northern Colorado’s likely to get two against Southern Utah, Northern Arizona, Weber State and Idaho State. That leaves six teams for building the other eight games (Portland State, Sacramento State, Montana, Montana State, Eastern Washington & Idaho). If you take the farthest west teams out of the mix, that means that there would be a home-and-home with the Montana schools.
Of course, the decision by the California State University trustees leaves questions for Sacramento State in all sports, but, hey, let’s stay focused on what we know…
- Volleyball has already been adjusted to a 16-game schedule for the same reasons as basketball, with their tournament being trimmed to four teams. UNC is the host of the tourney this after winning the title last year.
- Soccer will continue with its nine game schedule, but there will be no tournament. UNC would’ve been going into that as the defending champs, but will now have to win outright to go to a second straight NCAA Tourney.
- Softball is shifting to a four team tournament, slated for play at Weber State. They will play their normal 18 game schedule.
- Tennis is being shifted to a divisional format, with the top two teams qualifying for the conference tournament.
- Indoor track and field will go to Pocatello for a second straight year, rather than to Flagstaff, where they were scheduled to host the Big Sky event this winter.
With the alteration in the basketball schedule, the first week of December opens up. The intent was that the Big Sky schedule was going to open that week in an effort to help ease the clutter of games in January and February. UNC men’s basketball coach Steve Smiley tells me that the team will likely take a trip for a “money game” that week, now that it’s opened up.