Two Big West Schools Selected To CollegeInsider.com Tournament
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Cal State Fullerton and UC Santa Barbara earned bids to the fourth annual CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT), which begins this week with 16 first round games.
The Titans and Gauchos, who finished tied for second in the Big West regular season, open up tournament action on the road Wednesday. Cal State Fullerton (21-9) visits nearby Loyola Marymount (19-11, 11-5 WCC) for a 7:00 p.m. tip, while UC Santa Barbara treks to Idaho (18-13, 9-5) for a 6:00 p.m. start.
Cal State Fullerton returns to the postseason for the first time since reaching the NCAA Tournament in 2008. The Titans lost to Wisconsin in the first round that year. Head coach Bob Burton is in his ninth season at CSF with an overall record of 155-121 (.562). He has led the Titans to 20 wins or more in four of the last eight seasons.
The Titans average a conference-best 77.9 points per game and rank fourth nationally in three-point field goal percentage (.407). Three players – junior D. J. Seeley (16.8 ppg), junior Kwame Vaughn (15.4) and sophomore Isiah Umipig (13.5) – rank in the Big West top 10 in scoring with Seeley fourth on the list.
CSF and LMU have not met since Dec. 30, 2003 when the Lions won 71-67 at Titan Gym.
UC Santa Barbara is making its third consecutive postseason appearance after participating in back-to-back NCAA Tournaments in 2010 and 2011. The Gauchos lost 77-64 to Long Beach State in Saturday's Big West Tournament championship game to come up just short for a third straight bid to the Big Dance. They have recorded 20 wins for the third time in the last five seasons and fourth time overall under head coach Bob Williams.
The Gauchos are led by three-time all-conference selection Orlando Johnson, a finalist for the Lou Henson Mid-Major Player of the Year award and a Wooden Award top 25 finalist. The senior averages a league-high 19.7 points per game and ranks fourth in three-point field goal percentage (.421), sixth in field goal percentage (.450) and 10th in rebounding (5.8 rpg). He is UCSB's all-time career scoring leader. Senior James Nunnally is fifth in the Big West with 15.7 points per game.
This is the first meeting between the Gauchos and Vandals since 2005 when both schools were members of the Big West. UCSB leads the all-time series 12-7, but is 2-7 in games in Moscow.
The CIT field expanded from 24 to 32 teams this year. The tournament will consist of five rounds with all games being played at campus sites. The championship game will be broadcast live on Fox College Sports on Wednesday, March 28.
Pacific represented the Big West in the CIT in 2009 and 2010. The Tigers defeated Portland and Idaho to advance to the 2009 semifinals before falling to Bradley. In 2010, Pacific reached the title game after winning three straight road games against Loyola Marymount, Northern Colorado and Appalachian State. However, the Tigers lost to Missouri State, 78-65, in the championship.