Big Sky Tournament 2012: Montana Goes Dancing For 2nd Time In 3 Years

The 2012 Big Sky Tournament ended with the Montana Grizzlies capturing its second NCAA Tournament in three years.

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Big Sky Tournament 2012: Montana Grizzlies Win Championship Over Weber State

A near-perfect Big Sky regular season by the Montana Grizzlies will now be rewarded in the greatest way imaginable later this month: With a trip to the NCAA tournament.

Montana's decisive 85-66 victory over No. 2-seeded Weber State officially punched the Grizzlies' ticket to the Big Dance, and proved once and for all who the No. 1 team in the Big Sky Conference was this season. Montana players connected on 12 of their 22 attempts from behind the three-point line, and only gave the ball away seven times all night.

Despite the fact that Weber State managed to take a 36-31 lead into the half, the Grizzlies used a barrage of three-pointers to change the tide and eventually put the game on ice. Montana sophomore guard Kareem Jamar played 40 minutes, never leaving the floor, and led the way with 23 points and seven assists.

Weber State junior Damian Lillard, the 2012 Big Sky Player of the Year, finished with a game-high 29 points in the defeat, and is now expected to test out the NBA draft waters. For the Grizzlies though, this is a sweet, sweet moment to bask in. Joe Lunardi's Bracketology currently lists Montana as a projected No. 15 seed, but an impressive win like this could definitely go a long way towards improving its seeding.

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Big Sky Tournament Championship 2012: Montana, Weber State Battle For NCAA Tournament Spot

For a third straight year, the Montana Grizzlies will fight for a spot in the NCAA Tournament by playing in the Big Sky Tournament. In 2012, the Grizzlies lost to the Northern Colorado Bears, but the Bears failed to qualify for the tournament, leaving them unable to defend that title. The Grizzlies, meanwhile, took the No. 1 seed in the tournament and will face the No. 2 Weber St. Wildcats.

Montana, winner of seven Big Sky tournaments and in 2010 for the latest one (defeating Weber State, 66-65), defeated the Eastern Washington Eagles on Tuesday night to advance to the championship game. Before that, the Grizzlies defeated Weber State in the regular season finale, 66-51, to capture the No. 1 seed. Will Cherry scored 23 points in that victory.

Weber State finished Big Sky with a 14-2 record on the strength of Damian Lillard's 24.4 points per game. A midseason Naismith Award selection, Lillard have averaged 4.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game, as well. He scored 21 and 19 points in two games against the Grizzlies, but he shot just 32 percent to score those 40 points.

Game time/date: 7:00 p.m. MT, Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Location: Dahlberg Arena, Missoula, Mont.

TV: ESPN2

For more on the Big Sky Tournament, stick with SB Nation Denver. Head over to SB Nation NCAA Basketball for more news and notes as we approach March Madness.

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