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Bobcats, Grizzlies enter Big Sky Conference tournament with high expectations

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Posted at 5:38 PM, Mar 03, 2023

BOISE, Idaho — It's March, and it's tournament time in the Big Sky Conference with the Montana and Montana State men's and women's basketball programs vying for tournament championships.

The Bobcat programs enter the tournament as No. 2 seeds for both brackets in the Big Sky Conference.

The women will get the tournament started for everybody on Sunday when they play the winner of No. 7 Portland State and No. 8 Idaho State at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.

PHOTOS: MONTANA STATE WOMEN WIN BIG SKY CHAMPIONSHIP

The Bobcats (20-10, 13-5) are the reigning Big Sky tournament champions having advanced last year by beating Northern Arizona, and with the likes of all-league talents Darian White, Kola Bad Bear and more, the Bobcat women could be poised for another run to the big dance.

For a look at the women's bracket, click here.

On the men's side, the Bobcats (22-9, 15-3) will tip off at 8 p.m. on Sunday against the winner of No. 7 Portland State and No. 8 Northern Colorado, and like the women they are also looking for their second straight tournament title after winning it all a year ago.

PHOTOS: MONTANA STATE WINS FIRST BIG SKY TOURNEY TITLE SINCE 1996

The men enter the tournament having won 10 of their last 11 games as well. For a look at the men's bracket, click here.

Switching over to the UM programs, the Griz men are the No. 4 seed in Boise and they'll play No. 5 Idaho State on Monday at 5:30 p.m. to start the tournament in the quarterfinal round.

The Griz (16-13, 10-7) started conference play rocky, but have won seven of their last eight games, and they're looking for their first tournament title since going back-to-back in 2018 and 2019. For a look at the men's postseason accolades, click here.

The Lady Griz (14-15, 10-8), meanwhile, are the No. 5 seed on the women's side and they'll play at noon on Monday against Eastern Washington, a program they split the season series with.

Montana is looking for some better postseason luck this year, because ever since the conference tournament went to a neutral site in 2016, the Lady Griz program has won just one game in that format.

And the question everyone wonders, how could UM and MSU meet one another in either bracket? This year, for all programs, they would all need to advance to the championship game for fans to get a third rendition of the Brawl of the Wild.

MTN's Ashley Washburn and Kyle Hansen will have all of the coverage for the Bobcats and Grizzlies from Idaho Central Arena in Boise. And the coverage doesn't end there as on The CW Montana, you can catch almost the entire tournament from all teams, as MTN will have the broadcast for the first 14 games of the tournament so basketball fans can get their March Madness on early in the Treasure State.

That includes seeing Kalispell native Tiana Johnson, a senior for the Idaho Vandals, compete in her final run as No. 6 Idaho takes on No. 3 Sacramento State at 2:30 p.m. on Monday.

Also, Havre native Loree Payne, the head coach of the Northern Arizona women's basketball team, has the Lumberjacks as co-regular season champions with MSU and Sac State heading into the tournament. Payne and Lumberjacks are the No. 1 overall seed in the women's tournament, and the'll play the winner of No. 9 Northern Colorado and No. 10 Weber State on Sunday at noon.

MTN will have highlights, recaps, reaction, photos and more from Boise once the tournament gets underway.