Heading into the Big Sky tournament, it wasn't a lock that Weber State was going to be the representative. After all, the Wildcats had lost two of three and four of seven to end the season, and they looked vulnerable.
Moreover, Weber State had lost in back-to-back Big Sky title games and never even reached the dance during the Damian Lillard days. Maybe the Wildcats just had bad luck in the Big Sky tournament.
That ended emphatically on Saturday, as Weber State rolled past North Dakota, 88-67. Kyle Tresnak had 27 points, while Davion Berry went for 19 points. Defensive Player of the Year Joel Bolomboy had 11 rebounds down low.
Head coach Randy Rahe had won 55 games the past two seasons, but couldn't get over the hump and back to the NCAA Tournament -- a place he hasn't been since his first season at Weber State in 2007. But this season, after going just 1-5 in the non-conference against Division-I opponents, Rahe and the Wildcats are returning.
Player to know: Davion Berry. The Big Sky Player of the Year isn't Damian Lillard, but he does his best impression on the offensive end. He had 19 points in the title game and has actually been held below his season average a few times down the stretch, but Berry can fill it up in a hurry. There was a stretch earlier this season in which Berry scored at least 20 points in 12 of 14 games. If Berry is scoring the ball, Weber State could keep a game competitive.
- Record: 19-11 overall, 14-6 in the Big Sky
- Most recent tournament appearance: 2007. Lost to UCLA in the Round of 64 as a 15-seed.
- Jerry Palm predicts: 16 seed
- RPI: 156
- KenPom ranking: 176
- Sagarin ranking: 177
- Best wins: vs. Montana, vs. North Dakota (x3)
- Worst losses: at Sacramento State, at Idaho State
- Notable stat: 22.5 percent. That's the percentage of opponent's field goal attempts that come from 3-point range, ranking No. 1 in the country. Teams don't shoot outside jumpers effectively or consistently against Weber State. North Dakota tried to make some outside jumpers, but went just 1 of 12.
- Closing quip: The Wildcats shook off their struggles late in the season to make a run in the Big Sky tournament, but that's where it likely ends for them. They will be a 16-seed in the NCAA Tournament, and they don't have a future NBA star like Damian Lillard to close the gap. Davion Berry is a terrific player and Weber State has improved defensively, but it's a tall order. Weber State just wants to avoid going to Dayton.