UM Sports Trivia | Week of March 10

By CHRIS WALTERSKIRCHEN

For the first time since 2003 both the Montana Grizzly and Lady Griz basketball teams are playing in the Conference tournament quarterfinals. In ’03 the Lady Griz beat NAU in Ogden in the round of 8 while the Griz lost a home play-off game to Sacramento State. This is the first time since 2010 that the Griz have been forced to play in the Big Sky quarterfinals.  Overall all the Lady Griz team is 5-1 in quarterfinal round play.

The Lady Griz will be facing the Montana State women for the 17th time in Big Sky tournament play with Montana having a 12-4 advantage. However the Bobcats have won the teams’ last three meetings on a neutral court, most recently in the quarterfinal 2 years ago in Pocatello.  While the Lady Griz have won 6 of the last 10 Big Sky tournament titles, Montana State’s last league title came in 1993. The Bobcats have reached the tournament title game 6 times since 1995 but each time has come up short.

While the Lady Griz and Bobcats are tournament regulars, the match-up of Montana and Portland State on the men’s side is a first. Even though the Griz and Vikings have been in the tournament 9 times in the same seasons this will be their first meeting. This is the first time in Big Sky tournament play that Montana has faced a team in the league tournament. Montana over the years is just 7-12 in the quarterfinals of the Big Sky tournament, having beaten Northern Arizona in their last quarterfinal game in 2010.

This is the fourth time in the last 8 seasons that Weber State has hosted the Men’s tournament but the last two host assignments have proven difficult as first Portland State in 2009 and Montana in 2010 cut down the nets on the WSU Wildcats home court.

Last March the Hellgate Knights won their 5th boys basketball state title and this March the Knights are doing something they have never done before. The Four previous times Hellgate has won the boys title they have followed it up by failing to qualify for state the next season.

For the second time in Missoula high school basketball history a Garden City team enters state in quest of a third straight AA basketball title. In 1989 Ben Demers’ coached the Big Sky Eagles to within 1 point of a 3-peat as cross-town foe Hellgate claimed the title in the closing seconds.

A word to the wise for your upcoming bracket-crunching. Heading into last season’s NCAA tournament the No. 1 and no. 2 teams in both major polls were Gonzaga and Indiana, neither team made it the round of 8 in the 2013 field.

********************

Chris Walterskirchen has been an observer of Montana sports for nearly half a century. A Kalispell native, Chris has worked in various capacities for professional and college sports organization of at various times: ranging from announcing and statistical work to the concessions and even a stint as a costumedmascot.

Chris has academic degrees in communications and elementary education. His style of sports trivia involves more than just who won and who lost, but also focuses on the obscure or human side of sports. In this blog you will learn things like the Grizzly football team has won 210 games over the 19 seasons since they have had Monte as their mascot or that UNLV is the only school that both the Griz and Lady Griz have both faced in the NCAA basketball tournament

When not following sports Chris enjoys taking care of animals of all kinds (a peacock rescue?) and reading to pre-schoolers.