Paced by a balanced attack on both sides of the ball, the Weber State Wildcats have reached the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2007. Can the Wildcats, led by Big Sky Player of the Year Davion Berry, pull off an early-round stunner?
ESPN Insider has your answers, as Joe Lunardi has enlisted a team of Bracketologists to compile advanced metrics, key scouting intel and best- and worst-case tournament scenarios for all 68 teams to help you make smart picks in your bracket. Plus, as Lunardi fills out his bracket, he'll give you his prediction on how each team will fare.
Best wins: Montana, North Dakota (three times)
Worst losses: at Idaho State, at Sacramento State
Conference finish: 1st, Big Sky
Polls and metrics: Weber State ended the season ranked 176th by KenPom and 162nd by ESPN's BPI.
All-time tourney record: 6-15
Coach's tourney record: Randy Rahe (0-1)
(Note: Player statistics are for the full season, including conference tournament play.)
Key bench players
Biggest strength: The Wildcats shoot it at a high percentage (48 percent) from the field and possess a wide array of scoring options. Because of the diverse skill set on their roster, they can beat you in a number of ways but especially thrive in high-scoring games.
Biggest weakness: Their schedule. Weber State is impressive across the board statistically, but they haven't beaten a team with an RPI in the top 150. The Wildcats dropped a pair games to BYU and UCLA in the nonconference schedule, but it's been a while since they've seen the caliber of competition they'll encounter in the NCAA tourney.
Best player: Davion Berry. He ranked in the top five in the Big Sky in scoring (19.1 PPG) and assists (4.0 APG) and provides the locomotion for practically everything the Wildcats do offensively. His versatility creates matchup issues for opposing defenses because of his ability to finish at the rim as well as shoot it from long range.
X factor: Jeremy Senglin. The Big Sky freshman of the year strokes it at 40 percent from behind the arc and takes pressure off Berry with his ability to stretch the defense. He's especially lethal in transition when left alone on the perimeter.
Offensive approach: The Wildcats take what the defense gives them. Berry is a dynamic player but uses his savvy to create opportunities for his teammates. Second-team All-Big Sky performer Tresnak is a skilled low-post player who is often provided space down low when Weber State's motion offense is in full effect.
Defensive approach: Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year Joel Bolomboy and Kyle Tresnak form a defensive tandem that would make most BCS schools envious. Bolomboy is typically assigned the opponent's best frontcourt player while Tresnak uses his length to control the paint. Their presence enables Weber State's guards to stay true to their perimeter assignments.
How they beat you: The Wildcats take high-quality shots and prevent you from doing so. "Solid" would be the best word to describe Weber State on both ends of the floor -- a direct reflection of Berry, its senior leader.
How you beat them: Get them in foul trouble. Bolomboy and Tresnak are game changers, but the Wildcats lack depth behind them. If Weber State is forced to "go small" with their lineup, they become very pedestrian.
WHAT THE NUMBERS SAY
(Note: All statistics in this section are courtesy of kenpom.com, and are accurate through games of March 9.)
Good stat: 52.0 free throw rate
The Wildcats reached the charity stripe more than any team in the Big Sky this season and converted at a 73 percent clip. Their ability to initiate contact and capitalize at the line helps create their desired tempo while getting the opposition into foul trouble.
Bad stat: 13.7 TO percentage D
The Wildcats are sound defensively, perhaps too sound. They take very few risks, which limits their ability to create turnovers. Because of their conservative approach, they rarely create easy scoring opportunities for themselves.
HOW FAR WILL THEY GO?
Best-case scenario: round of 64 upset
The Wildcats have the pieces to spring an upset, but the matchup has to be right. If Berry and Senglin catch fire from deep and Tresnak and Bolomboy take care of business defensively in the paint, they could stun a heavy favorite sleepwalking in the round of 64.
Worst-case scenario: one and done
The odds will be stacked against the Wildcats in almost any encounter in the tournament. They are a talented bunch, but a lack of experience against top-notch competition has them ill-prepared for the Big Dance.