Big West Title, No. 1 Tourney Seed Up For Grabs
Entering the final week of the men's basketball schedule, four schools can still claim the Big West Tournament No. 1 seed.
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Big West Race Goes Down To Final Week
In a season where several teams have been clustered around the top of the men’s basketball standings, it’s no surprise that a possibility exists for a four-way tie for the Big West regular season championship.
Winners of eight of its last nine games, UC Irvine can clinch at least a share of the regular season crown with a win on Homecoming Day against UC Davis. UCI would capture the outright crown with a win coupled with one UC Santa Barbara loss against either Long Beach State or Cal Poly.
UCSB can clinch the outright title with a 2-0 week combined with UC Davis beating UCI. UC Davis can do the same with wins over Hawai‘i and UCI, and one UCSB loss.
In the 49-year history of Big West basketball, no four-way tie for first place has ever occurred. Four schools could tie for the title at 11-5. What would have to happen?
• UC Davis loses to Hawai‘i and defeats UCI.
• UCSB splits against LBSU and Cal Poly.
• CSF defeats CSUN and UH.
UCI is seeking its fourth Big West regular season title – either outright or shared – in the last five seasons. The ‘Eaters won outright championships in 2013-14 and 2016-17, sharing the title with Hawai‘i in 2015-16. They have finished no worse than second under head coach Russell Turner over the last four seasons.
UC Santa Barbara is seeking its first crown since the 2009-10 season when the Gauchos shared with Pacific. UC Davis is looking for its second title in the last four seasons. CSF last finished first in 2007-08 when the Titans finished in a three-way tie with CSUN and UCSB.
If The Tournament Started Today...
The Big West Men’s Basketball Tournament is March 8-10 at Honda Center. Four quarterfinal games will be played on Thursday, March 8. If the season ended today, the tournament seedings would look as follows:
No. 1 UC Irvine vs. No. 8 UC Riverside
No. 2 UC Davis vs. No. 7 Cal Poly
No. 3 UC Santa Barbara vs. No. 6 Long Beach State
No. 4 Cal State Fullerton vs. No. 5 Hawai‘i
NOTE: The 6 p.m. game on Thursday will feature the highest seeded team among CSF, LBSU or UCI.
Cal Poly has clinched a spot in the Big West Tournament. The Mustangs will either be the No. 7 or No. 8 seed.
That leaves the final available spot in the tourney field to either CSUN or UC Riverside. The Matadors can punch their ticket with a win over the Titans this week, combined with two Highlander losses. UCR can get in with two victories, or one win coupled with a CSUN loss. UCR can also qualify with a win over LBSU, and would earn the tiebreaker over CSUN if both teams finished 4-12.
ACTIVE BIG WEST COACHING RECORDS
|Dan Monson, Long Beach State
|Russell Turner, UC Irvine
||Same as school
|Joe Callero, Cal Poly
|Jim Les, UC Davis
|Dedrique Taylor, Cal State Fullerton
||Same as school
|Eran Ganot, Hawai‘i
|Reggie Theus, CSUN
|Joe Pasternack, UC Santa Barbara
|Justin Bell, UC Riverside
||Same as school
PRIOR TO TIPOFF
CAL STATE FULLERTON AT CSUN (WatchESPN) - Cal State Fullerton seeks back-to-back 10-win seasons in Big West play. The Titans have never accomplished that feat since they joined the conference for the 1974-75 season. CSUN is clinging to its Big West Tournament hopes and needs a win to keep them alive. UC Riverside’s win over CSF on Feb. 21 looms large for tiebreaker purposes should the Highlanders and Matadors both finish 3-13 The Titans have shot 50 percent or better in five of their last seven games – all wins. PXP: Trent Rush • ANALYST: Richie Schueler
CAL POLY AT UC RIVERSIDE (BIGWEST.TV) - Cal Poly has clinched a spot in the Big West Tournament. In any tiebreaker scenario, the Mustangs have been buoyed by their win in the Big West opener over rival UC Santa Barbara. Cal Poly is 0-6 in Big West road games this year, and its last away victory in conference came at UCR last season (84-77 in OT on Feb. 25, 2017). UCR senior Chance Murray is averaging 16.0 points over the last six contests. He had his third 20-point performance of the season with 24 points at UC Davis last Saturday.
HAWAI‘I AT UC DAVIS (BIGWEST.TV) - Hawai‘i can finish anywhere from No. 4 to No. 6 in Big West Tournament seeding. UC Davis can be anywhere from No. 1 to No. 4 on the seeding spectrum. The game features players ranked one and three in field goal percentage during conference games – UH’s Mike Thomas (.604) and UC Davis’s TJ Shorts II (.570). Shorts II has scored in double figures 13 times in the last 14 games, with six 20-point efforts in that stretch. The guard also shot 83.3% (15-of-18) from the field last week against UC Santa Barbara and UC Riverside.
LONG BEACH STATE AT UC SANTA BARBARA (ESPNU) - UC Santa Barbara can tie the school’s single-season wins record of 23 – set by the 2007-08 team – with two wins this week. The Gauchos attempt to sweep the season series from the Beach for the first time since 2013-14. LBSU is hoping to regain momentum heading into the Big West Tournament, having lost five of its last six games. In conference games, LBSU’s Gabe Levin is first in scoring (21.9 ppg) and third in rebounding (7.6 rpg). On UCSB’s side, Leland King II is No. 11 in scoring (14.7) and No. 1 in rebounding (11.3) – the only Big West player to average a double-double. PXP: Sam Farber • ANALYST: Richie Schueler