Should the No. 1 seed host the Big Sky Championships? Should it be held at a predetermined site? Should it be held at a neutral location?
These are a few of the questions about the men’s and women’s basketball championships that were thrown around during the Big Sky Conference spring meetings earlier this month.
As it stands now, the No. 1 seed hosts the Big Sky Championships and receives a first round bye. Last season, that meant Weber State University hosted the men’s basketball tournament for the third time in the last six seasons.
Now for us here in Ogden, that’s not a problem at all. We can just drive (or walk) over to the Dee Events Center and enjoy some championship basketball. It’s a bit more of a problem for the fans of other Big Sky schools, like Big Sky Championship runner-up University of North Dakota. For UND fans, they did not know where the tournament would be hosted until less than two weeks before the first tip-off. Between making time at work or school to go to the tourney and booking transportation and lodging, there is not a lot of time to pull it all together.
I understand wanting to reward the No. 1 seed with home field advantage, as well as a first round bye. In my opinion though, if you want to increase the popularity and fan support, you should have the championship held at a different location each year.
Look at the last eight championships: four were hosted by Weber State, two were hosted by the University of Montana, and the University of Northern Colorado and Portland State each hosted one. For Big Sky Basketball fans at schools like Eastern Washington University or Northern Arizona University, it’s difficult for them to make it to the tournament and watch the best teams in the conference compete. Northern Arizona hasn’t hosted the tournament since 2006, it’s been 10 years since Eastern Washington hosted and none of the players in the Big Sky Conference were even in kindergarten the last time Idaho State University hosted the tournament.
If the conference picks a different site each year, you give everyone the chance to watch the best of the best. It will get the fans pumped up to support their teams, and it will give the host teams an even greater motivation to win it all.