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Weber State notebook: WSU hoops, EWU with toughest schedules; football inks 2 games with BYU

By BRETT HEIN - Standard-Examiner | Nov 1, 2023

Robert Casey, Weber State Athletics

Weber State's Dillon Jones, right, defends Isaiah Somers (15) on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023, at the Dee Events Center in Ogden.

A hallmark of every October is college basketball coaches almost universally talking up their “tough  nonconference schedule.”

That can’t be true for every team so, as far as Big Sky Conference men’s basketball, who’s telling the truth?

Using an analysis of preseason conference polls and Ken Pomeroy ratings, that’s Weber State and Eastern Washington, with Montana also faring well.

Their nonconference schedules against Division I opponents come in two flavors: Eastern Washington’s is the toughest by a good margin according to Pomeroy’s preseason numbers (average KenPom rating: 128.5) due to a tour of power-conference teams that includes five Pac-12 opponents.

Weber State’s is the toughest by average predicted conference finish by playing a list of mid-majors expected to be strong: four teams voted No. 1 (Saint Mary’s, South Dakota State, Yale, Colgate), one at No. 2 (Oral Roberts) and three at No. 4 (Nevada, Utah Valley, Gardner Webb). Take out Wyoming (10th) and Cal Poly (11th), and Weber State opponents’ average expected finish via preseason polls is second place.

Portland State (UC Santa Barbara) and Northern Arizona (UCSB, Grand Canyon) are the other teams slated to play expected-league champions (with NAU also opening the season at defending national champ UConn).

WSU is third in strength of nonconference schedule by Pomeroy rating.

Montana plays a somewhat curious schedule that includes three in-season home-and-home series against teams (North Dakota State, UC Davis, San Jose State) who fare moderately well in one or the other, which means the Griz hold the Big Sky’s second-strongest nonconference schedule by both measures.

Northern Colorado, Idaho and Idaho State play weak schedules by both measures.

All of this can change, of course, as games are played and teams over- or under-perform what the numbers expect them to do.

A couple notes: Big Sky teams who play in multi-team events and have opponents who are not decided until the events progress do not have those opponents accounted for in these calculations, as there’s no way to know who those teams will be. Additionally, Northern Colorado’s game against Chicago State was included in average Pomeroy rating but omitted from average preseason polling as the Cougars are not in a conference.

Each list, in order, is as follows.

STRENGTH BY AVERAGE PRESEASON POLL PLACEMENT: Weber State 3.9, Montana 4.6, Northern Arizona 5.1, Sacramento State 5.9, Montana State 6.5, Portland State 6.7, Northern Colorado 7.7, Eastern Washington 8, Idaho 8.1, Idaho State 8.6.

STRENGTH BY AVERAGE POMEROY RATING (362 Division-I teams): Eastern Washington 128.5, Montana 147.1, Weber State 152.6, Sacramento State 160, Northern Arizona 180.7, Portland State 193.8, Montana State 194.3, Northern Colorado 206.7, Idaho 211.5, Idaho State 230.3.


One bonus of Weber State’s men’s basketball this season: nearly every game will be available on ESPN+, home and away.

In addition to all Big Sky games and all home games, nonconference away games against Saint Mary’s, Utah Valley and the three games at the Atlantic Slam (in Moncton, New Brunswick) will all be on ESPN+.

And WSU’s road game in the Big Sky-Summit Challenge, at Oral Roberts on Jan. 6, 2024, will air on cable via CBS Sports Network.

The remaining two road games that likely fall outside any TV or ESPN+ assignments are the two against Mountain West schools (Nevada and Wyoming). Barring an unexpected pickup by a Mountain West TV partner, those will likely stream online at the conference’s streaming site (themw.com/watch) or on the Mountain West streaming app.

Big Sky Conference tournament games will stream on ESPN+, or air on ESPN2 or ESPNU.

Thursday’s exhibition against Adams State (7 p.m., Dee Events Center) will not be available via broadcast but admission to the game is free.


Weber State and BYU announced the signing of two future games between the two in-state teams.

Weber State will open the 2027 and 2030 seasons at BYU. The Wildcats are 0-3 in the rarely played series, with only one game (2012) coming in the last 40 years.

WSU is now slated to play BYU and host Southern Utah in 2027.


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