It’s not very often that I go out on a limb and make predictions. The reason for this is that, normally, whatever I predict, the opposite happens.
It’s occurred to me that if what I predict never happens, I should start predicting the opposite of what I want to happen.
As the Weber State University’s men’s basketball team gets ready to start their season, there are some predictions I feel pretty comfortable making.
Damian Lillard will win the Big Sky Player of the Year award: Assuming Lillard stays healthy this season, he will return to the top of the conference, and will have a strong season for the Wildcats. Two years ago, Lillard was named the Conference Player of the Year. He started last season off hot as well, and probably would have won the honor again if it weren’t for an injury to his foot. Following the Purple and White Game, he said that he’s feeling back to 100 percent and is looking forward to this season.
WSU will be a force to be reckoned with: When the Big Sky Conference rankings came out a few weeks ago, the Wildcats were unanimously selected as the No. 1 team in the conference. There isn’t much doubt that they are the best team in the conference, but I think they may be the best team in the state.
Lillard has already garnered some preseason hype. Recently, Rivals.com ranked him as the 10th-best point guard in the nation. He was also selected as the preseason favorite to win the Big Sky Player of the Year award.
BYU may be the only team in the state that can challenge WSU for the title of Best Team in the State. With the return of Brandon Davies, the Cougars should be strong, even without the great Jimmer.
I would say the Wildcats are better than the University of Utah, who went 13-16 last year, and fired their head coach at the end of the season. I’d also say that the ’Cats are better than Utah State University. The Aggies always field a good team, and have regularly been a strong team, but I think, when the two teams meet on Nov. 15 at the Dee Events Center, the Wildcats will win. USU won’t be able to stop the offensive partnership of Lillard and Scott Bamforth.
The Wildcats will gather national attention: It might not be to the level of Jimmer-mania, but WSU should show up on the radar of the sporting world. They were already ranked 19th in a preseason poll of mid-major schools. WSU also has the opportunity to play in a nationally televised game this season. They are scheduled to play in a Sears BracketBuster game in February, and, depending on how things go, they could be on ESPN, taking on another mid-major school.
This season is bound to have its share of ups and downs for the Wildcats, but I’m sure there will be more ups than downs this year. If the team wins the Big Sky Conference tournament, like many think they will, they will receive even more national attention in the March Madness national tournament.
March Madness isn’t something that’s new to the WSU basketball program, and this team may be good enough to be this year’s Cinderella-story team, and make a run into the later stages of the tournament.
I know that normally when I predict things, what I predict never happens, but I’m confident in these predictions that I’ve made in this column. This team is good enough to overcome my jinx.