Potential NCAA Tournament Sleeper: (Big) Sky The Limit For Weber State?

Potential NCAA Tournament Sleeper: (Big) Sky The Limit For Weber State?

Weber State is not a completely unfamiliar name when it comes to filling out your NCAA Tournament brackets with four appearances in the Big Dance dating back to the 2002-2003 season. The last trip was in 2016 as a No. 15 seed, but the stay did not last past the Wildcats’ first game.

Head coach Randy Rahe has been a fixture at this university for the past 13 years, and he has guided this team to a Big Sky Conference Tournament three times in his tenure. His last two efforts came up just short after his team posted 20 victories in each campaign. With the Wildcats’ high level of success this season, once again Rahe has them pointed in the right direction.

Weber State Team Overview

Early-season victories against Central Michigan and BYU closing as underdogs set the tone for the Wildcats during the nonconference portion of the schedule. They also faced some adversity early in December with a three-game losing streak against some tougher competition such as Fresno State and Utah State out of the Mountain West. Weber State closed things out at a pedestrian 6-5 in 11 contests outside the conference.

The talent displayed in those early-season upsets started to jell once play in the Big Sky got underway. Wins build confidence and confidence leads to more wins. This appears to be the team’s mantra moving forward. How far it takes the Wildcats beyond the Big Sky remains to be seen, but the turnaround in attitude and their resulting performance on the court has landed them on my sleeper list.

Weber State Season Outlook

One of the big reasons why Weber State is playing with much better consistency the right time of the season is a roster that is four deep with double-digit scorers. This has led to an overall scoring average of more than 80 points per game. The Wildcats will need to tighten things up at the other end of the court with a points-allowed average that is much farther down the list in Division I play. They have shown the ability to put the clamps on teams, but this has yet to be the case on a consistent basis.

Leading the way with over 20 points a game is junior guard Jerrick Harding. He is shooting over 46 percent from the field and close to 40 percent from three-point range. Even more important moving forward is a very high level of consistency shooting free throws at a rate close to 88 percent.

Another junior guard, Cody John, completes the Wildcats’ potent scoring backcourt with close to 16 PPG. More of a pure shooter inside the arc with a field goal percentage of 50 percent, he is the perfect complement to Harding’s ability to shoot the three. Managing both of these players in a one-and-done scenario would be a headache for even the top defensive teams in the nation.

Veteran leadership runs deep in this roster with senior forward Brekkott Chapman and senior center Zach Braxton on the list as the other two players averaging at least 11 PPG. Chapman leads the team in rebounds with nine a game and Braxton is a close second pulling down over seven boards on a regular basis.

The Wildcats’ supporting cast offers a few more veterans from those past two 20-win seasons and, all-in-all, this could be one of Rahe’s most talented teams in his impressive coaching career at Weber State.

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