Quest For 2013 Big West Men's Basketball Tournament Title Begins
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2013 Big West Men's Tournament Central
Men's Basketball Weekly Release No. 19
Honda Center, the site of the 2013 Big West Men's Basketball Tournament, prepares for quarterfinal round action on Thursday, March 14 as pairings have been finalized.
Thursday action begins at noon with No. 7 seed UC Santa Barbara battling No. 2 Pacific in head coach Bob Thomason's final Big West Tournament before retiring after 25 years at the helm. The Tigers finished undefeated in conference at home (9-0) and bring a 19-12 overall record into the contest. The Gauchos have appeared in the last three consecutive Big West Tournament finals.
No. 6 UC Davis and No. 3 Cal Poly take the court for the afternoon's second game. The Mustangs finished the regular season with their highest Big West win total (12) in school history and take a 17-12 mark into battle against the Aggies, who have improved by six conference wins from last season.
Long Beach State wrapped up its third straight outright regular season conference crown and pinned down the No. 1 seed. The 49ers (18-12, 14-4) seek their second straight Big West Tournament championship with the first obstacle No. 8 Cal State Fullerton at 6:00 p.m. The Titans are 14-17 overall and 6-12 in league play.
The final game of the opening night of tournament action features No. 4 seed UC Irvine and No. 5 Hawai’i. Head coach Russell Turner's Anteaters have accumulated 18 victories, the most for the program since the 2007-08 season. The Warriors, in their first season of Big West competition, enter the tournament at 17-13 overall and 10-8 in conference action.
All four Thursday quarterfinal games will be aired on Fox Prime Ticket and Fox College Sports Pacific. Each game will be live, with the exception of Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton. That game will air immediately after the fourth quarterfinal between UC Irvine and Hawai’i.
Semifinal action on Friday, March 15 begins at 6:30 p.m. with the highest remaining seed facing the lowest remaining seed from the quarterfinal-winning teams. The other two quarterfinal winners tip off 30 minutes after or at 9:00 p.m., whichever is later. ESPN3 will carry both semifinal games live. ESPNU will televise the second semifinal live, while the first semifinal will air on a delayed basis immediately after its conclusion.
The championship game tips off on Saturday, March 16 at 7:30 p.m. and can be viewed on ESPN2.
BIG WEST AT A GLANCE
• Regular season champion Long Beach State is the No. 1 seed for the 2013 Big West Basketball Tournament, which runs March 14-16 at Honda Center. The 49ers seek to win their second straight tournament championship and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row.
• The 49ers won their third consecutive outright regular season championship, the first Big West school to do so since former member UNLV reeled off seven straight from 1982-89. Pacific ran off three in a row from 2003-06, but the first of that trio was a co-title with Utah State.
• Recent tournament history suggests the No. 1 seed is in good shape to emerge with the crown. The No. 1 seed has won three of the last four, and five of the last seven tournament titles.
• In addition for playing for a berth in the NCAA Tournament, No. 2 seed Pacific has extra incentive to win the Big West Tournament. This is the 25th and final season for the winningest coach in Big West history – Bob Thomason. Thomason, with 433 overall and 248 conference victories, is retiring at the end of this season. He is one of just five coaches to have won at least three Big West Tournament titles during his career. Jerry Tarkanian (UNLV, 7), Stew Morrill (Utah State, 4), Boyd Grant (Fresno State, 3) and current UC Santa Barbara coach Bob Williams (3) are the others.
• No. 3 seed Cal Poly enters the tournament as one of the league’s hottest teams, winners of five straight and eight of its last nine games. The Mustangs set program records for Big West victories (12) and winning percentage (12-6) with the strong finish, and appear poised to make a deep tournament run. The program last appeared in the championship game in 2007. Cal Poly ranks second nationally in fewest turnovers per game (9.4).
• UC Irvine, the No. 4 seed, is another squad that enjoyed a strong finish to the regular season. The Anteaters won six of their last seven contests to improve to 18-14, with the 18 wins the most for the program since the 2007-08 season. UCI seeks its first 20-win campaign since the 2002-03 club went 20-9.
• Four schools finished their Big West home schedules undefeated this season at 9-0. Cal Poly, Long Beach State, UC Irvine and Pacific all had unblemished slates on their respective home courts against conference opponents. The 49ers have won 26 straight Big West games at the Walter Pyramid, while the Mustangs have claimed 14 straight home league wins. The overall home records of those four schools this season was 49-7.
• Honda Center enters its third year as the host facility for the Big West Basketball Tournament. The Big West and Honda Center have enjoyed the partnership, as a three-day total of 18,976 fans attended last year’s event, representing a 23% over year one. The men’s championship game attendance of 7,564 was the largest to witness a final in the 18-year history of having the tournament in Anaheim (1977-82, 2001-12).
• Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara have played each other in the last three Big West finals. Should one of them reach the finals, it would be the first time since Utah State (2000-03) that a school made four straight championship games.
STATS OF THE WEEK
• UC Irvine sophomore Will Davis II, tied for fourth in Big West single-season history with 78 blocked shots, needs 11 to tie and 12 to overtake former UC Santa Barbara swat standout Eric McArthur, who logged 89 rejections in 1990.
• UC Davis sophomore Corey Hawkins is the first player in Aggie history to become Big West scoring champion. The 6-3 guard is averaging 20.9 points per game, which is currently 12th-best in the nation.
• Sophomore Alan Williams is the first UC Santa Barbara player to lead the Big West in rebounding since Eric McArthur won back-to-back titles in 1989 and 1990.
• The vaunted Hawai’i frontline of Christian Standhardinger, Vander Joaquim and Isaac Fotu were all honored for their outstanding play when the league’s all-conference awards were announced Monday. Standhardinger, No. 7 in the league in scoring (15.9 ppg) and No. 4 in rebounding (7.9), was named first team all-conference. Joaquim, who ranks second in the Big West with 12 double-doubles, was an honorable mention selection while Fotu earned Co-Freshman of the Year honors.