The University of Idaho has a new stunning arena on campus. It is the campuses first basketball-specific facility in the University’s 132 year history. It was built with wood from the University’s experimental forest on Moscow Mountain and utilized only in-state timber and wood companies to complete its construction.
The final product is beautiful. But where does it rank in the Big Sky Conference? Hell, where does it rank out west? Former Athletic Director Rob Spear was convinced we were passed over for the Mountain West in 2013 was not football, but rather our lack of a basketball facility. Playing almost all of our non-conference games in a gym that is a memorial to the first world war and later moving into a football facility that tried to be an intimate basketball setting, and simply fell short more than it succeeded.
Did we just build something to get in the game? or did we build something special! To raise the bar! To be the envy of many!
Lets start by ranking all 11 basketball arenas in the Big Sky Conference.
11. Hornets Nest | Sacramento State
Built: 1955 Capacity: 1,012
10. Walkup Skydome | Northern Arizona
Built:1975 Renovated: 2011 Capacity: 16,230
T8. Brick Breeden Fieldhouse | Montana State
Built: 1957 Renovated 1998, 2013 Capacity:8,455
T8. Reed Gym | Idaho State
Built: 1951 Renovated: 2002,2010 Capacity:3,214
T6. Bank of Colorado Arena | Northern Colorado
Built 1974 Renovated 2006, 2011 Capacity: 2,992
T6. Reese Court | Eastern Washington
Built: 1975 Capacity: 6,000
5. America First Event Center | Southern Utah
Built: 1985 Capacity 5,300
4. Dee Event Center | Weber State
Built: 1975 Capacity: 11,592
3. Dahlberg Arena | Montana
Built: 1953 Renovated: 1999 Capacity: 7,321
2. Peter W. Stott Athletic Complex/Viking Pavilion | Portland State
Reminder this is a “Power Ranking.” It means different things to different people. Some view it as the best team, some view it as hottest team at the moment. At the end of the year, the team that wins the conference may not be No. 1 in our rankings. We had 12 voters this week.
This week [Last Week] | Team | First Place Votes – Points
1.  Eastern Washington (12) – 169
Last Week: W Vs #6 Montana 34-28
This Week: @ Northern Colorado
My Ranking: 1
WOW, WOW, WOW! What a show! The wait was worth it. If this truly is a farewell tour, the main event was something to hold onto forever. This will make the best hits album for years to come. The show was so good, maybe this isn’t farewell after all. They have a couple big shows left to maybe show these old souls still have it. That they are more than just their lead guitarist.
2.  Montana – 145
Last Week: L @ 28-34 #4 Eastern Washington
This Week: Vs Dixie State
My Ranking: 3
Well shoot. I took Montana in this one and was pretty confident in the pick. Though the one thing I said was Cam Humphrey can’t win this game, and he couldnt. I know Kris Brown was ultimately how it ended, but Humphrey just isn’t a guy to go out and win you a game. Humphrey completed 53% of his passes for 150 yards and a 1 to 1 TD to INT ratio.
Cam didnt lose them the game, he certainly didnt win it either.
That VAUNTED griz defense I thought would give QB Eric Barriere the same types of “fits” Idaho has the past two seasons. (“fits” as in not 400 yards and 4 TDs)
I guess they kinda did?… But it just wasnt enough.
3.  UC Davis – 142
Last Week: W vs Idaho 27-20
This Week: @ Idaho State
My Ranking: 2
UC Davis fans I imagine are okay not being in the top spot after their preformace compared to the ESPN2 showdown. However, #3? My assumption of the 11 other voters is, they rewarded Eastern for the win, didnt want to punish Montana, and the Aggies just played it too close to a team barely in the top 10 of the power rankings.
I made the argument last week in favor of UC Davis having a tougher schedule. Well, what a difference a week can make?! 2 of our top 3 teams are undefeated. Montana (the one with the loss) leads the way in average sagarin ranked opponents, at 130 on average, Easterns’ average opponents ranks 140.75, then UC Davis is a only 193 (out of 258).
Good news for them they only have 1.5 hurdles left to go undefeated.
4.  Montana State – 137
Last Week: W vs Northern Colorado 40-7
This Week: Vs Cal Poly
My Ranking 5
You know it is bad when Griz fans were pulling for Montana State. Their opponent last week, Northern Colorado, apparrently ruffled some feathers. People wanted to seem the out of no-where cockiness of the bears cooled down a bit.
The spread was -19.5 Montana State at home. I was one of the people that thought Northern Colorados’ rennassiance was further along and took the spread… Montana State proved they are not.
The Bobcats are sort of sailing under the radar. I think they like it this way. But Bobcat fans beware of flying objects when attending games.
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Look for Weber, a backup QB puting up 38 points is a win.
Just werid vibes coming out of Ogden. They are almost in a win or bust situation. They may be able to afford one more loss to a top Big Sky program. But they are running out of statement wins as well. The next 3 weeks are going to be monumental for the Wildcats.
Coming off of the bye, they get Montana State at home which feels like the must win game. Because they follow that up on the road in Cheney. They really need to go 2-0 through that stretch to gurantee playoffs. otherwise it gets iffy and their future may be in others hands. Which is always stressful.
Right now it is a 5 team race for conference title and playoff spots. In 3 weeks it could be narrowed down to 4 teams and some “SadCats” – Hot Take Nate
It was a rough week in the #PurplePalace, as the Wildcats fell to in-state rivals Utah State and BYU by double digits. Our panel breaks down the results and what we learned from a difficult week of non-conference play.Then, we're playing Buy or Sell. Hear our panel's men's hoops takes and whether they're buying enthusiastically or selling intrepidly.Special thanks to our sponsor, WildcatRack.com. Visit their website to check out all their latest Wildcat gear and follow them on Facebook or Instagram.Don't forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or join the Wildcat Fans FB group.
I seriously dont get it?! We punish teams like Davis for beating Idaho by 7. We punish teams like Weber for losing to Top 10 programs. Yet, 2-2 Sac State with a 2 point win vs 206th ranked Sagarin team and an 8 point win vs 222nd sagarin ranked team, just keep being named the best team outside of the elite teams? PEOPLE, they barely beat the team we ranked last this week! So if Sac State is SOOO good why did we punish Idaho State (fell 3 spots). They fell by a 4th quarter field goal. This wasnt ISU making it look close in garbage time. This was Sac State having to come from behind vs (apparently) the worst team in the Big Sky.
7.  Portland State – 92
Last Week:W @ Southern Utah 20-13
This Week: @ Idaho
My Ranking: 6
The love everyone seems to give Sac State, should be given here. Portland State is the team it appears the rest of the Big Sky Podcast Network thinks Sac State is.
QB Davis Alexander is #2 in yards, #4 in TDs.
RB Malik Walker is #7 in yards (Sac State RB not even on list), #2 in TDs
WR Beau Kelly #4 in yards , #2 in catches, #1 in TDs
WR Nate Bennet #6 in yards, #4 in catches, T-#2 in TDs
Yup, I did just take half of Portland States space to continue the tar and feathering of Sac State. Sorry, Colter, they arent quite top 5, but looking to be top 6…ish
8. [t-11] Northern Arizona – 76
Last Week: W vs Idaho State 48-17
This Week: Bye
My Ranking: 8
This team has fluctuated lots this season. Been as high as #6 and as low as #12. Which seems to be fitting honestly as no one seems to have a grip on who they are.
I was celebrity guest host on BSPNS’s NAU Sports Show last week and predicited an Idaho State W, but left door open for NAU win. Classic hedge.
Well NAU players and fans can mail me my crow meal. They were Tiger Kings this weekend.
9.  Idaho – 67
Last Week: L @ #7 UC Davis 20-27
This Week: Vs Portland State
My Ranking: 9
They move none and match my ranking. Out of 13 teams the only teams I agree with positioning are #1 Eastern, #8 NAU and #9 Idaho.
I know majority of the eyeballs reading this are Vandals, and probably skipped right on down to this point, and Im sorry.
I know we just hung with the #7 team in the country with legit shot to win. But, we didn’t… Look talent wise we proved we might be top 3 in the conference. Hell, just look at recent draft picks and NFL guys since we rejoined the sky in 2018. In 3 seasons we have 3 guys in NFL and the only Big Sky school with a guy who most likely will be leaving early to be drafted (Tre Walker). The worst part in 2018 all 4 of them were on the team together! in 2019 3 of them were on the team together! How can we not win games with this level of talent?oh wait, Coaching.
I’m starting to think you could go down position matchups every week and pick Idaho in the majority. The one I am starting to think we can no longer check is head coach. I have been a defender of Paul for 8.25 seasons… I can’t anymore. No more excuses. we aren’t Independent, we arent transtioning to Sun Belt, we are recruting to a program kicked out of the Sun Belt, we aren’t transitioning to FCS with less scholarships, we arent getting use to another new conference in the Big Sky, we aren’t in a shortened spring season, we dont have QB issues anymore, we have no more excuses.
We SHOULD have won on saturday, the players did…
10.  Northern Colorado – 50
Last Week: L @ Montana State 7-40
This Week: Vs #4 Eastern Washington
My Ranking: 8
Well they lost me money this weekend (*Allegedly). Maybe the bears aren’t as far along as some (maybe just me and Bears fans) thought.
Montana State showed the difference between top flight Big Sky team and the pile up between 11ish and 6.
After that ass kicking, I doubt they are enthused with Eastern coming to town. Going to be a sad homecoming. But seriously, lets dive into this. Who in their right mind schedules Eastern for Homecoming? Like, Why? Do you understand you are suppose to win homecoming? is this concept foreign to you? Are you secretly a NAU grad? A Raiders Fan? Christian McCaffery stole your girl? I dont get it? It really makes me want to break a clipboard and throw it. As a “Souvenir” of course.
11. [t-11] Southern Utah – 42
Last Week: L vs Portland State 13-20
This Week: @ Sacramento State
My Ranking: 12
Please refer to the WAC Podcast Networks coverage of this team.
12.  Cal Poly – 25
Last Week: L vs #19 Weber State 7-38
This Week: @ #10 Montana State
My Ranking: 13
I mean, not sure how they moved up. They are my 13, though maybe I should just permenently make SUU my 13, becasue screw SUU. (Exept their Social Media team, they are fire. Please dont roast me)
13.  Idaho State – 23
Last Week: L @ Northern Arizona 17-48
This Week: Vs UC Davis
Well Bengals, You made me look like a fool. Fool me once shame on me, Fool me can’t get fooled again.
*** As always I”m not an journalist so, take your gramatical error comments, & put them in a beg some-Where. Hope you enjoyed the content regarless if you maid it too dis disclaimer
Weber State at 1 – The Wildcats return possibly the best Secondary in the FCS. Three members of the secondary made our All-Tubs Team. Bronson Barron (technically a true freshman still) had barely been on campus and had to compete for starting job last season. That is not the case this fall, he will be receiving all the reps. Pair that with former Jerry Rice Award winner Josh Davis and an emerging stable of backs returning. The Achilles heel of this program, the offense, has to take a step forward. Even if the offense doesn’t improve, they have still won four straight Big Sky titles. Why would I bet against them?
Montana at 3 – Look even with some “?” still at QB. This team returns a lot of talent. How bad could it be when you get to throw to Maybe the best WR in the FCS, Sammy Akem. If the QB works out, they could easily win the conference. But right now with Weber returning Bronson & Eastern returning EB3, I gave them the SMALL nod over the Griz. Its going to be a close race this year.
Sacramento State at 10 – I understand I’m sticking my neck out with this one. I just think the 2019 season was a flash in the pan. I expect this team to be closer to their 42-28 home playoff loss to start the playoffs, more then the 49-22 win vs the Griz. The Hornets in my opinion benefited greatly from being a sleeper until about half way through the 2019 season, an out of nowhere QB (who has since transferred out) and no one having tape on first time head ball coach Troy Taylor. I expect them to struggle early and maybe make a charge late. Are they the 10th best team in conference probably not, probably a bit better. But weeks 1 thru 6 I expect them to play below where most people have them. Most throw out the easy schedule this year as a reason to have them high. I think the easy schedule will catch them sleep walking with rust early. Though lighting can strike the same spot twice…
Weber State at 3 – Defending Big Sky champion Weber State (finally) looks vulnerable. The Wildcats won a single spring game by a margin greater than a touchdown–with all of those nail biters coming against teams that will be picked in the bottom half of this fall’s season–but Weber’s schedule, and Jay Hill’s tendency to just never lose games he shouldn’t, makes a 6-2 (in conference) floor all but locked in.
Idaho at 7 – This vote was a strict judgement of talent–which should put Idaho not in the top tier of the conference, but close enough to talk yourself into yet another but maybe this year discussion.
Which is lunacy.
We all know the Idaho blueprint from the previous three years: stay competitive at home, but faceplant on the road. Hang with, or knock off a playoff-level team, then stumble in comical fashion against the Northern Colorados, or Northern Arizonas occupying league’s bottom tier. Never mind that Idaho has its toughest league schedule since rejoining the Big Sky.
So yes: in my written-in-blood preseason poll, Idaho sits at number seven. And yes: the moment my poll was officially sent, I could not believe their slot was higher than ten.
Northern Colorado at 9 – Consider Northern Colorado a composite character of Idaho, Idaho State, Southern Utah, and Northern Arizona: it’s an absolute crap shoot rating any of those teams above each other. Before the Bears land higher than ninth, we’ll need to see the fruits of Coach McCaffrey produce. The talent influx following McCaffrey alone will make Northern Colorado at least good enough to spoil someone else’s playoff hopes, but with the promising spring efforts from other projected lower-tier teams, there’s too crowded a field of candidates to repeat the out-of-nowhere rises of UC Davis and Sacramento State to rate Northern Colorado much higher.
Eastern Washington at 2 – Eric Barriere is one of the best players in the entire FCS, and when you have a quarterback like him running the show, you’re going to have at least a puncher’s chance in every game. Yes, their questionable defense allowed 35 straight points in the first round of the spring playoffs to a weakened North Dakota State. Yes, the receivers drop more passes than they should. Yes, they have an extremely tough conference schedule this year. But, their three toughest games (Montana, Montana State, Weber State) are all in Cheney this year and I’d expect they win two of the three to keep themselves just behind Weber in the conference standings. Even in their last true down year (2015, when Vernon Adams transferred to play his final year at Oregon), they tied for fourth in conference, going 5-3 with two losses to ranked teams.
UC Davis at 6 – UC Davis has a deep cast of receivers, a solid defense (as Vandal fans likely remember), and one of the best running backs in the conference. QB Hunter Rodrigues had 21 FCS passes to his name coming into 2021 and may have benefited more from the spring season than any other athlete. So why do I have them sixth? Weber State, Eastern Washington, and the Montana schools certainly look better on paper and should all slot in as top five finishers, even if they trade losses around. I don’t see the Aggies beating Weber State (and yes, I know they had a double digit lead on the Wildcats last season) or Eastern Washington. Even if they beat Sacramento State in the Causeway Classic to finish the year, I don’t think a game in hand on the Hornets helps, courtesy of the absolute gift of a schedule Sacramento State got this year. Nothing against UC Davis, but a top five finish doesn’t seem to be in the cards.
Idaho at 9 – Every year it seems I talk myself into Idaho finally becoming a bully in the Big Sky. Take one look at the schedule and you’ll realize why I’m not doing that this year. The Vandals could be favored in three of their four home conference games, but even if they won out at home with an upset of Montana, they will not be favored in a single road game this season. I don’t think they win a single game outside of Moscow this year, even without Paul Petrino’s track record of failure away from the Kibbie Dome. There’s plenty of talent on this team, just like there was in the spring, but I don’t see any reason to believe that it magically clicks this season. 4-4 in conference is the ceiling for this team if things go well, and 2-6 is certainly on the table. We’re looking at another long year.