The EWU men's basketball team ended Big Sky play last March with a three-point loss in the conference final to Weber State, which went undefeated in league play (and later played in the NCAA Tournament in Spokane).
Can you guess which two schools are picked to go 1-2 in the conference this year? Weber and Eastern return three starters each, and the coaches picked the Wildcats to win it all again. But since head coach Ray Giacoletti has had his team just one win away from the frenzy of March Madness for three seasons in a row -- and since the Eagles made it into the bridesmaids' postseason (the NIT) last year -- this just might be the year for the Spokane area to get its second Big Dance card.
It won't be easy, though. With road games against Top 15 opponents Oklahoma (Nov. 21) and Gonzaga (Dec. 31 at the Spokane Arena), and trips to Washington (Nov. 29), Iowa (Dec. 5) and Santa Clara (Jan. 3), the Eagles face a tough schedule. The Eagles' first home game is the day before Thanksgiving (Nov. 26), against the University of Denver.
Still, they have the firepower of three all-conference players: 6-foot-2-inch senior guard Alvin Snow (13.5 points and 2.2 steals per game), 6-7 junior forward Marc Axton (nearly 10 points and five rebounds per game) and 6-4 senior guard Brendon Merritt (11 ppg and 3 rpg).
The Big Sky tournament championship game, with a trip to the Big Dance on the line, will be played on March 10. Will it be in Ogden, Utah, or in Cheney, Wash.?