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Big Sky Tournament Schedule 2012 Begins With Idaho State Vs. Eastern Washington

The 2012 Big Sky Tournament starts on Saturday, but we won't have the Northern Colorado Bears, last year's conference tournament champion, to cheer for this year. The Bears finished tied for seventh with the Sacramento St. Hornets at 5-11 in Big Sky play, both two games out of the final conference's No. 6 seed for the tournament.

Instead, we'll see the No. 5 Idaho St. Bengals and the No. 6 Montana St. Bobcats, both 7-9 in conference play, make runs at the tournament's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament over the Bears or the Hornets. The Bengals have the first game of the day and will visit the No. 4 Eastern Washington Eagles. The Bobcats will look to upset the No. 3 Portland St. Vikings.

Waiting on Tuesday for those winners will be the No. 1 Montana Grizzlies (23-6, 15-1 Big Sky) and the No. 2 Weber St. Wildcats (23-5, 14-2 Big Sky).

First Round - Saturday, March 3

8 p.m. MT - No. 6 Montana State at No. 3 Portland State
3 p.m. MT - No. 5 Idaho State at No. 4 Eastern Washington

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.