The SCGD heads back to Morega, California tonight for a Big Sky versus West Coast matchup as the Eastern Washington Eagles take on the St. Mary’s Gaels (8:30PM Eastern, no TV). The Gaels have been one of the top “under the radar” teams so far this season, as they quietly have gotten out to a 6-0 start including solid wins over good teams from Louisiana Tech, Akron, North Dakota State and Drake. They do not yet have a marquee win over a power conference team, and they still have not left their home court, but this team has looked good in its six outings to date.
St. Mary’s will be hosting the Eagles of Eastern Washington tonight before finally heading out on the road next weekend with a trip to Boise State. Eastern Washington enters the game at 5-2 on the season, though their best win to date was over Boston University (arguably the best team in the Patriot League this year). They have dropped their only two true road games so far, at Wahsington and at UC-Irvine. However, their solid start to the season so far has shown that this team may be able to contend in what looks like a fairly wide open battle for the Big Sky title this season (Weber State, Northern Colorado, Montana, and North Dakota are among others that should be in this race). While the Big Sky is not likely to produce an at-large candidate this season, the performances so far this season of its top teams has the SCGD looking forward to the conference race…and unlike other conferences, there is a ton to win in the regular season. Only the top 7 of the 11 Big Sky members will even qualify for its conference tournament, and the top seed will host the championship and get a bye into the semifinals. Eastern Wahsington can make a huge statement tonight that they will be a force to contend with if they can pull off the upset victory over the Gaels.