Senior Joel Bolomboy slam dunks the ball in Weber State's win over Sacramento State.  (The Signpost/Christina Huerta)
Senior Joel Bolomboy slam dunks the ball in Weber State’s win over Sacramento State. (The Signpost/Christina Huerta)

While students and faculty at Weber State University enjoy their spring break, the men’s and women’s basketball teams are in Reno, Nevada, for the Big Sky Conference Championships.

In previous years the conference championships were hosted by the regular season champion, but following last year’s tournament, the Big Sky Conference announced members had agreed to a deal to hold both the men’s and women’s championships in Reno for the next three years.

Along with the neutral location, the conference expanded the number of teams in the tournament from only the top eight to include all 12 teams.

Men’s basketball enters tournament No. 1

The men’s team secured the No. 1 seat halfway through their game against Eastern Washington University on Saturday after University of Montana lost to University of Northern Colorado 78-72.

With a 15-3 record against conference opponents and an overall 23-8 record, the Wildcats won their 22nd regular season title in team history. It was the fifth regular season title the Wildcats have won under head coach Randy Rahe and their second in the past three seasons.

The Wildcats have a first round bye as one of the top four seeds in the tournament and will play their first game on Thursday at 2:05 p.m. Mountain time against the winner of Tuesday’s game between No. 8 Portland State University and No. 9 Northern Colorado.

The Wildcats have played against Portland State and Northern Colorado twice each this season, winning all four games including three wins by at least 10 points.

The winner of Thursday’s game will advance to the semifinal game on Friday, where they will face the winner of the game between No. 4 Idaho State University and either No. 5 University of North Dakota or No. 12 Southern Utah University.

Women’s basketball returns to tournament after nine-year drought

Three seasons ago, the women’s basketball finished with an 0-29 overall record. Since then the team has steadily improved each year, leading to this season, when they recorded their best finish in over a decade.

Finishing with a 19-10 overall record, this year was the first time since 2004-05 that the team had 19 wins in a season. This will also be the first tournament appearance for Weber State since 2007, when they lost to Idaho State University 72-63 in the semifinals.

The Wildcats play their first game on Monday night, when they play against No. 11 Portland State in the final match of Day 1 of the tournament. Weber State faced Portland State twice this season, winning both games by at least 15 points. The Wildcats’ highest scoring game of the season was against the Vikings, where they scored 102 points in the home win.

The winner of Monday night’s matchup will go on to play against No. 3 University of Idaho. Weber State played the Vandals in their second-to-last game of the season on March 2, losing 77-70 at home.

Follow The Signpost on Twitter and Facebook for updates on the Wildcats’ tournament results. For live court-side coverage of the games, follow news editor Michael Grennell, photo editor Ariana Berkemeier and sports reporter Harrison Epstein on Twitter.

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