Weber State releases Big Sky schedules for men’s, women’s basketball; men’s nonconference notes
The Big Sky Conference released its conference schedules for men’s and women’s basketball for the upcoming 2022-23 season, meaning 18 games are now solidified for both Weber State teams.
That number — 18 — is one of a few changes this season for Big Sky basketball. Southern Utah’s defection to the WAC leaves 10 basketball-playing schools, so 18 league games provides a full, home-and-home, round-robin slate, down from 20 league games in the last several years.
As has been typical, the men’s and women’s schedules for each school are mirrored; the two teams from one university play the same opponent, with one playing at home and one on the road.
The WSU men open Big Sky play at home by hosting Northern Colorado and Northern Arizona on Dec. 29 and Dec. 31.
Weber State gets its only “light” week in the slate’s second week, hosting Idaho State on Jan. 7.
The WSU men play two Monday games: at Northern Colorado on Feb. 6, which comes following a Thursday, Feb. 2 game at Idaho State; and to end the season at Northern Colorado on Feb. 27, which comes after a Thursday-Saturday home set against Eastern Washington and Idaho — meaning the Wildcats end the season with three games in five days.
In addition to the Big Sky schedule, the Standard-Examiner has obtained details for several of the Weber State men’s basketball team’s nonconference games for the 2022-23 season.
First, the Wildcats have signed up for a brand-new, multi-team event to be held in Henderson, Nevada. Tentatively being called the Vegas Championship, the three-game event will be held Nov. 21-23, at a new arena called The Dollar Loan Center where the Big West Conference held its conference tournaments in March.
Standard-Examiner reporting of Weber State’s involvement in the Vegas Championship is the only publicly available information regarding what schools are participating, though WSU is likely to play a slate of three mid-major opponents, as is typical for such events.
WSU’s only finalized home game is against Utah Tech, with a yet-to-be-determined date.
The Wildcats have road games lined up to complete existing contracts with BYU, Utah State and Tarleton State. WSU has also inked a new, one-time buy game with Colorado State.
With those eight nonconference games, that leaves WSU with up to five more openings to finalize.
In a couple instances since his hire as head coach six weeks ago, Eric Duft has said his team’s schedule is essentially complete via mutual agreement with other schools, just not finalized by completed contracts.
Combining the Big Sky schedule release with Standard-Examiner reporting, below is an incomplete look at what the Weber State men’s team has finalized for the 2022-23 season. The first date teams can play to open the regular season is Tuesday, Nov. 8.
All men’s and women’s home and conference games will be available via the ESPN+ streaming service. Some men’s games may also appear on local TV, with details forthcoming.
For simplicity’s sake, the men’s schedule is outlined below, with the knowledge that the women’s Big Sky Conference schedule is mirrored from the below list.
Nov. 14: at Colorado State
Nov. 21-23: Vegas Championship
Nov. 29: at Tarleton State
Dec. 22: at BYU
Known nonconference games without finalized dates: vs. Utah Tech, at Utah State
Dec. 29: vs. Northern Colorado
Dec. 31: vs. Northern Arizona
Jan. 7: vs. Idaho State
Jan 12: at Montana
Jan. 14: at Montana State
Jan. 19: vs. Portland State
Jan. 21: vs. Sacramento State
Jan. 26: at Idaho
Jan. 28: at Eastern Washington
Feb. 2: at Idaho State
Feb. 6: at Northern Colorado
Feb. 9: vs. Montana State
Feb. 11: vs. Montana
Feb. 16: at Sacramento State
Feb. 18: at Portland State
Feb. 23: vs. Eastern Washington
Feb. 25: vs. Idaho
Feb. 27: at Northern Colorado
MORE BIG SKY DETAILS
Contracting to 10 teams allows for clean sets of travel partners meant to minimize cost and time away from home for players. Weber State-Idaho State, Eastern Washington-Idaho and Montana-Montana State remain paired up from previous iterations of league schedules.
Sacramento State and Portland State are partners, as are Northern Arizona and Northern Colorado.
Big Sky deputy commissioner Dan Satter explained on Twitter that Sac-PSU is the shortest distance of any combination between those four remaining schools, and there are now direct flights available from Flagstaff to Denver that make an NAU/NoCo pairing efficient and affordable.
The next change: the Big Sky has ditched the two-game conference series scheduled in early December, which was meant to alleviate a schedule crunch in the league schedule from January on, after two seasons.
That does mean each team will play two Monday games during the run of conference games. Satter told the Standard-Examiner that coaches “overwhelmingly” chose to stop scheduling league games in early December, which allows for better nonconference scheduling options.
Another difference: The regular season now ends five days earlier than has been common for nearly the last 10 years in order to accommodate format and schedule changes to the Big Sky tournaments.
Both the men’s and women’s tournaments in Boise, Idaho, now begin and end on the same day, running from Saturday, March 4, to Wednesday, March 8. The format removes the mid-tournament day where five games were held, meaning morning tipoffs have been eliminated. And, each championship game has received an upgrade on TV carriage: the women’s title game will be on ESPNU and the men’s on ESPN2.