Montana and Weber State, the top two programs in the history of the Big Sky Conference, have played each other for more than five decades, since the series began during the 1962-63 season. For the first 55 years, the two teams met at least twice – once in Missoula and once in Weber – with a third matchup in the Big Sky Championship also occurring many seasons.
Last spring, however, playing an 18-game league schedule, marked the first time the Grizzlies did not travel to Ogden. Montana and Weber State played just once, a 75-57 Griz home win.
Montana will make its first trip to Ogden in two years this week, facing third-place Weber State on Thursday night. As is often the case between the two top teams, the Grizzlies expect a packed arena and a great game.
“They have a great team and a great environment,” head coach Travis DeCuire said. “This is the point of the schedule where I looked at it and said, ‘This is going to be fun.'”
Montana and Weber State rank No. 1 and 2 in the Big Sky Conference for all-time wins, conference championships, NCAA tournament appearances and attendance. This season is no different, with Montana currently leading the league at 10-2, and Weber State not far behind at 9-4.
Including its home win last month, Montana has beat Weber State three consecutive times, but wins have been harder to come by in Ogden. The Grizzlies won their most-recent game at the Dee Events Center, in 2016-17, but prior to that, they had lost 12 consecutive regular-season games at Weber State (the only exception came in 2009-10, when Montana beat Weber State in the tournament championship game).
On paper, the game has plenty to offer. Montana (+12.8) and Weber State (+6.7) have the top two scoring margins in the Big Sky. Both teams shoot better than .490 from the field – top two – and hold opponents below .430 shooting – also top two. Additionally, the two teams have the two best rebounding numbers and two of the three best scoring figures.
“Our attention to detail was at a high level,” DeCuire said, referencing last month’s win over the Wildcats, which featured a 20-0 Griz run in the first half. “We made a minor adjustment to our ball-screen defense, and I think that’s why they went so long without a basket. We also had a very high level of respect for their players, individually and collectively, which led to great focus and mental preparation.”