Big West Tournament champion UC Davis makes its inaugural appearance in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament with a First Four game against North Carolina Central this Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio.
The game will tip at 3:40 p.m. (PDT) on truTV.
The two No. 16 seeds are playing each other for the first time. The winner will take on No. 1 seed Kansas in a first round game Friday in Tulsa, Okla.
The seventh different program to capture the Big West Tournament title in seven years, second-seeded UC Davis advanced to the Big Dance with victories against No. 7 Cal Poly, No. 3 Cal State Fullerton and No. 1 UC Irvine at Honda Center. The Aggies are 22-12 overall, with the 22 wins the second-most in their Division I history and under head coach Jim Les.
In defeating UC Irvine 50-47 for the title, UC Davis held an opponent to the second-fewest points in a championship game in the 42-year history of the Big West Tournament.
UC Davis made the program's first Division I postseason appearance in 2014-15, playing in the National Invitation Tournament against Stanford to complete a 25-win campaign.
UC Davis Going Dancing For First Time
UC Davis became the seventh different Big West program in seven years to win the conference tournament championship, and punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the school’s Division I history. The Aggies, seeded second, defeated No. 7 Cal Poly, No. 3 Cal State Fullerton and the top-seed UC Irvine to earn the Big West’s automatic bid to the Big Dance. Honda Center’s seventh year as the host venue of the tournament has witnessed the following champions: UC Davis (2017), Hawai‘i (2016), UC Irvine (2015), Cal Poly (2014), Pacific (2013), Long Beach State (2012) and UC Santa Barbara (2011).
Aggies Post Second-Highest Win Total
Entering the NCAA First Four game against North Carolina Central, UC Davis is 22-12 overall, owners of its second 20-win season in the last three years under head coach Jim Les. The Aggies finished 11-0 at home this season.
Aggies Put On Defensive Clinic
UC Davis overcame a 30-point loss to UC Irvine in the Mar. 4 finale, a winner-take-all game for the regular season crown, putting forth its best defensive game of the season in the tournament title game against the Anteaters. The Aggies held UCI to 47 points, the second-fewest scored by any team in a championship game. Only Pacific scored fewer (38 in 2001) in a final.
UC Irvine Reaches Fifth Straight Postseason
UC Irvine has won 114 games over the last five seasons with Russell Turner at the helm. He has led the Anteaters to at least 20 wins in all five years. UCI also is in the postseason for the fifth year in a row, taking part in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) this year as the Big West’s automatic qualifier and regular season champion. UCI also has appeared in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament (2013, 2016), NCAA Tournament (2015) and NIT (2014) during that five-year stretch.
UC Irvine has won the Big West regular season crown – either shared or outright – in three of the last four seasons. UCI won the outright title in 2013-14, and shared the top spot with Hawai‘i in 2015-16. The ‘Eaters won this year’s outright title with a 12-4 record. The team’s three seniors – Luke Nelson, Jaron Martin and Ioannis Dimakopoulos – have been part of a regular season or Big West Tournament title-winning team in each of their four years with the program.
Fullerton Enjoys Resurgence With Taylor
Cal State Fullerton fourth-year head coach Dedrique Taylor has returned the Titans to the postseason for the first time since 2012 with a 17-14 season, a seven-win improvement over the 2016-16 campaign. The Titans will host Weber State in the first round of the CIT, marking the first time they will play a home postseason game.
Nelson In The Record Books
UC Irvine senior Luke Nelson is now No. 5 in school history with 1,514 career points. He moved up to No. 8 in Big West history with 253 career three-pointers made.
PRIOR TO TIPOFF
• UC Davis junior Chima Moneke was named the Big West Tournament Most Valuable Player after averaging 13.0 points and 13.0 rebounds in the three wins. He notched his conference-leading 12th and 13th double-doubles of the season in the quarterfinals against Cal Poly and semifinals versus Cal State Fullerton. His 18 rebounds against Cal Poly was a career-high and tied for the second-most in Big West Tournament single-game history.
• UC Davis senior Brynton Lemar averaged 20.1 points during the tournament. He scored 20 points in the championship game against UC Irvine, marking his 10th 20-point game of the season.
• The Aggies improved to 12-1 on the season when limiting the opponent to 70 points or less.
• UC Irvine blocked 10 shots in the Big West Tournament semifinal win over Long Beach State, the second-highest single-game total in the 42-year history of the event. Sophomore Jonathan Galloway had five of those rejections, tying him for No. 4 on the tourney single-game list.
• Cal State Fullerton senior Lionheart Leslie has 33 steals over the last seven games, and at least three in each game.
BIG WEST BY THE NUMBERS
5 - Big West players who have scored 1,000 career points this year
7 - Number of different schools that have won Big West Tournament titles in seven years at Honda Center
253 - Career three-pointers for UC Irvine’s Luke Nelson, No. 8 all-time in Big West history