Last Updated: 2017-11-03
The next conference we’ll look at as we go over opening power ratings for all the college basketball conferences is the Big Sky Conference, which has always been one of my favorite conferences. Part of it has to do with the fact that I graduated from Eastern Washington University, but also it’s a minor conference, which occasionally can step up and shock one of the big boys, as my Eagles have done on the gridiron several times in recent years, or a basketball team like Weber State can knock off a North Carolina, as they did in 1999.
The Big Sky Conference is also one where home court advantage has to be given extra consideration. The standard premise when dealing with power ratings is to assign four points to the home team, which is pretty close to what the oddsmakers will assign the home court value, even though some teams are greater than four points better at home and others are worse.
We’ll use my Eagles as an example in the Big Sky, as Eastern Washington was 15-1 at home with an average score of 85.4 to 75.2 last season, which is a margin of +10.2. On the road, the Eagles were 6-10 with an average score of 73 to 77.4, or a margin of -4.4. That’s a 14.6-point swing between home and away performance, so you can see how EWU’s home court advantage is greater than four points. We’ll look at several different ways to calculate home court advantage as we work our way through the 32 conferences.
Big Sky Conference Opening Power Ratings
Weber State 74
Eastern Washington 72
Montana State 71
North Dakota 71
Northern Colorado 69
Portland State 67
Sacramento State 66
Idaho State 62
Northern Arizona 61
Southern Utah 59
The Montana Grizzlies are a little up-and-down with their ratings, while Weber State has nearly a 10-point difference between the highest and lowest-rated teams. Idaho is pretty consistent, while Pomeroy isn’t a big fan of my Eagles, which is why they are fourth.
The top four teams are all within a few points, just as things are bunched up in the middle of the pack, followed by a gap and a pretty close group of teams expected to battle it out to stay out of the basement. Portland State and Northern Arizona also showed some pretty big differences in the numbers, which could be an indication of the Big Sky being a bit unpredictable, like the majority of smaller conferences can be at times.