Previewing the quarter-finals

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The quarterfinal round of the Big Sky Conference Tournament hits the hardwood at least for four teams Saturday night.

Although falling to Idaho in a non-conference matchup the Vikings of Portland State ran the league table with six straight victories, four at home, to climb into the league's Number three slot to host Montana State in the first round while Idaho State lost their season finale at Eastern Washington to drop a game back of the 8 and 8 Eagles and force a return trip to Reese Court in the battle of four-five teams because they held the tie breaker over the also 7-9 Bobcats.

In an unfortunate twist in the schedule the Bengals played two of their last three against the Eagles losing by seven in Pocatello and then by 13 in Cheney.

Interestingly enough, Portland State lost both meetings with the Bobcats falling by 13 in Bozeman on the opening weekend in December, then being edged in the middle of a three-game slide by five points a month later in the Rose City.

But the Viking win streak is modest although it raised their season record to 16 and 13.

They won at one-win Northern Arizona, at Idaho State and Sacramento, and claimed home matchups again with Sac, Eastern and Northern Colorado so four of the six were wins against teams who didn't gain a tournament berth.

Of course waiting in the wings with six full days between games are league champion - doesn't that sound nice - Montana and 14 and 2 and 23 and 5 Weber State.

The Wildcats will open the semi final session in Missoula Tuesday at 5:30 against the highest remaining seed while the Grizzlies will face the lowest remaining seed at 8 p.m.

Montana knocked Weber State out of the tournament in the semi final round last year before losing to Northern Colorado in the title game and also of course bested Weber State in the chipper in Ogden to gain the NCAA bid in 2010.

In 2000 the last year Missoula hosted the tournament, Montana was upset by Cal Northridge in the opening round.


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