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GNAC Basketball Championships adjusted, MSUB women postponed

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Posted at 2:33 PM, Jan 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-31 18:50:53-05

(Editor's note: MSUB Athletics release)

PORTLAND, Ore.— All 10 men’s and women’s Great Northwest Athletic Conference basketball teams will participate in this year’s conference tournament, the league office announced on Monday.

The Montana State University Billings women’s basketball team also announced that this week’s road games – at Simon Fraser University on Thursday and at No. 9 Western Washington University on Saturday – have been postponed due to health and safety protocol within the Yellowjacket team. No makeup dates for this week’s postponed games have been announced.

The GNAC Management Council and CEO Board unanimously voted to expand this year’s tournament to all 10 men’s and women’s programs. The GNAC Championships will run from March 2-5.

To accommodate full fields in both genders, the first two rounds of games will be split between Saint Martin’s University in Lacey, Washington, and Seattle Pacific University. In total, six games – two play-in contests and four quarterfinals matchups – will be contested at SPU’s Royal Brougham Pavilion. The other 12 games, including the semifinals and championship games in both genders, will be played at Marcus Pavilion on the campus of Saint Martin’s, which was awarded tournament-hosting rights two years ago.

For each gender, the No. 7 through No. 10 seeds will compete in play-in games on Wednesday, March 2. The winners will advance to an eight-team bracket, which will begin play on Thursday, March 3.

With the prospect of conference teams playing unbalanced schedules, tournament seeding in 2022 will be based on a points rating system rather than win/loss percentage.

The points rating system is an end-of-season calculation that attaches numeric values to each result based on whether the game was at home or on the road and where each opponent’s final conference winning percentage fell (i.e., .750 and above, .500 to .749, .250 to .499 and .249 and below). The better an opponent’s final winning percentage, the greater the point values for a win or a loss. It is similar to one of the key metrics used by Division II in ranking teams under consideration for NCAA postseason at-large berths in multiple sports, including men’s and women’s basketball.

“Given the significant disruption to the conference schedules this season, expanding the championship tournaments to include all members was the right thing to do for our basketball student-athletes,” said GNAC commissioner Dave Haglund. “Last year’s conference schedule and postseason tournaments were canceled as a result of COVID, which has also taken its toll on the first half of this year’s conference schedule. All told, there have been nearly as many postponements as games played to date.

“Since some GNAC teams could be affected by canceled contests more significantly than other teams, our Management Council believes a fairer system of seeding teams will be to use a points-rating formula that places a numeric value on the result of each completed contest, win or loss, depending on the quality of opponent. This is a system adopted by many Division II conferences to more fairly seed teams for their basketball tournaments.”

Championship brackets are expected to be announced on Saturday, February 26, following the conclusion of the final games of the regular season. Ticket information for both venues will be released at a later date.

County health and safety protocols will be in place for fans attending tournament contests at Seattle Pacific (King County) and Saint Martin's (Thurston County). Currently, for basketball games at Seattle Pacific, spectators 12 years of age or older will need to provide proof of full vaccination or results of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of the event. Facemasks worn over the nose and mouth are required for all spectators over 5 years old, regardless of vaccination status. Currently, all fans attending basketball games at Saint Martin’s are required to wear facemasks regardless of vaccination status.

The Yellowjacket women’s basketball team enters this week 13-9 overall and 7-3 in conference play to sit in third place in the league standings. After this week’s postponements, the MSUB women will next be in action at home on Feb. 10 against Saint Martin’s and on Feb. 12 against Western Oregon in the final games of the season at Alterowitz Gym.

MSUB’s men’s basketball team is 8-9 overall and 4-3 in league play, and enters this week in fourth place in the conference standings. The Yellowjacket men play at Saint Martin’s on Thursday and at Western Oregon on Saturday this week, kicking off a six-game road stretch over the course of 11 days.