OGDEN — The NCAA Ratings Percentage Index could be used to break the tie between Montana and Northern Colorado at the top of the Big Sky Conference men's basketball standings.
The No. 1 seed earns the right to host the Big Sky Conference semifinals and championship on March 8-9.
If Montana and Northern Colorado each win their remaining conference games, the RPI on March 3, will be used to determine the No. 1 seed and host because the first two tie-breaking procedures the Big Sky implements would not break the tie.
The first tiebreaker is "head-to-head." Montana and Northern Colorado split regular-season meetings.
The second tiebreaker is performance against conference teams in descending order. If Montana and Northern Colorado win their remaining games and finish 13-3 in conference play, both teams will have the exact same record against the other seven teams.
Montana, which is currently 11-3, closes out Big Sky play at Portland State on Thursday and at Eastern Washington on Saturday. Northern Colorado (10-3) has three conference games remaining. The Bears play host to Northern Arizona on Saturday, are at Idaho State on Monday, and return home to take on Sacramento State on Wednesday, March 2.
As of Wednesday, Montana has an RPI of 109, while Northern Colorado's was 121. The RPI changes daily, as team's opponent's results and their opponents results are weighted in the formula.
"We can't wait any longer than next Thursday to make the announcement," said Big Sky Commissioner Doug Fullerton. "The RPI changes daily, but we have to have our tournament field set on March 3. We have teams that will play in quarterfinal games on March 5, and we need to give our No. 1 seed a few days to prepare for the semifinals and championship."
Weber State, the two-time defending regular-season champion, is could still end up hosting the tournament. If the Wildcats (10-4) wind up in a three-way tie with UM and NC, or if Weber State ends up in a two-way tie with one, Weber State could win the tiebreaker based on its 2-0 record over Northern Arizona, which is currently in third place. Weber State closes its conference regular-season schedule with a road game on Thursday at Sacramento State and a home game on March 2 against Eastern Washington.
Montana, Northern Colorado and Weber State have clinched postseason bids.
Northern Arizona, Eastern Washington, Montana State, Idaho State and Sacramento State are vying for the final three berths. Portland State is ineligible for this year's championship.
The 2011 Men's Big Sky Championship begins on March 5. The No. 3 seed will play host to the No. 6 seed. The No. 4 seed will play host to the No. 5 seed. The No. 1 and No. 2 seed receive a bye to the semifinals.
The semifinals on March 8 will be televised live on Altitude. The championship will be televised live on ESPN2 starting at 7 p.m.