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Men's Basketball

March Madness Heads To Honda Center

Links associated with this release:
This Week in the Big West - March 7-13, 2016
2016 Big West Men's Basketball Tournament Page

3/5/2016

2016 Big West Men's Basketball Tournament Bracket

2015-16 Men's Basketball Release No. 18

The bracket for the 2016 Big West Men's Basketball Tournament is set, with eight teams vying for the crown beginning Thursday, March 10 at Honda Center.

Four quarterfinal games will be televised Thursday on FOX Sports Prime Ticket, starting at noon with No. 4 seed UC Santa Barbara against No. 5 seed UC Davis.  The Gauchos boast an eight-game winning streak and conference scoring leader Michael Bryson.

The second quarterfinal, beginning approximately at 2:30 p.m., features top-seeded Hawai‘i against No. 8 seed Cal State Fullerton.  The Rainbow Warriors shared the Big West regular season title at 13-3 with UC Irvine.  UH's Eran Ganot has tied the record for most victories by a Big West first-year head coach as the 'Bows enter the tournament 24-5 overall.

Quarterfinal three showcases No. 2 seed UCI against No. 7 seed Cal Poly at 6:00 p.m.  The Anteaters are 24-8 overall, winning the second-most games in program history.  The Mustangs were the first No. 7 seed in Big West Tournament history to win the championship in 2014.

The final contest of the evening pits No. 3 seed Long Beach State against No. 6 seed UC Riverside.  The Beach has won nine of its last 10 games.  LBSU swept both UH and UCSB in the regular season series, but lost both matchups to UCI in terms of results against the top four seeds.

The bracket will be reseeded following the quarterfinals.

On Friday, March 11, the semifinals will be televised on ESPNU and streamed on ESPN3.  The 6:30 p.m. semifinal will feature the highest remaining seeded team against the lowest remaining seeded team.  The second semifinal is scheduled for 9:00 p.m.

Championship game is scheduled for Saturday, March 12 at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN2.  The winner earns the Big West's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Westwood One will have a national broadcast of Saturday's final that can be heard on several platforms – on regular radio stations across the country (list of stations are available at westwoodonesports.com), on the Westwood One Channel via the TuneIn mobile app and streamed online for free on westwoodonesports.com.  The game will also be available on SiriusXM satellite radio as follows: Sirius 81/XM 81 and on the Sirius XM App-channel 81.

More information, including schedules and ticket prices for the 41st annual Big West Men's Basketball Tournament can be found at the link above.

PRIOR TO TIPOFF

UC SANTA BARBARA VS. UC DAVIS (UCSB leads 1-0 in BWT)
– UCSB brings an eight-game winning streak into the quarterfinals.  The Gauchos are tied with Hawai‘i for longest win streak by a Big West team this season.  The two teams were ranked one-two in scoring defense during conference play.

HAWAI‘I VS. CAL STATE FULLERTON (1st BWT meeting) – The trio of Stefan Jankovic, Aaron Valdes and Roderick Bobbitt average 43.3 of UH’s conference-best 77.8 points per game.

UC IRVINE VS. CAL POLY (CP leads 2-1 in BWT)
– Cal Poly was the first No. 7 seed to win the Big West Tournament in 2014, and the Mustangs are back in that slot.  The Anteaters are attempting to become the first conference team since UC Santa Barbara in 2010 and 2011 to win back-to-back tourney championships.

LONG BEACH STATE vs. UC RIVERSIDE (LBSU leads 1-0 in BWT)
– The only game of the four quarterfinals in which the two teams split the regular season.  LBSU has won nine of its last 10, while UCR has lost seven of eight.

TEAM NOTES

CAL POLY

Lucky Seven?: Cal Poly became the first No. 7 seed in Big West Tournament history to win the championship in 2014.  Guess what?  The Mustangs are a No. 7 seed once again.  They meet the team they ousted – UC Irvine – in the 2014 semifinals en route to the title.

Be Wary: Despite Cal Poly’s 4-12 conference record, eight of its 16 conference games were decided by five points or less.  The Mustangs were 2-6 in those games.

Join The Club: Senior David Nwaba became the 23rd player in Mustang history to tally 1,000 career points, doing so emphatically as he scored a career-high 25 to go with 10 rebounds against UC Irvine.

Nwaba Note: Nwaba leads the Big West with 172 free throw attempts this season.

Cold Front: Cal Poly made just 8 of 50 three-point attempts (16.0%) combined in their two games last week.

CAL STATE FULLERTON

Back In The Field: Cal State Fullerton is back in the Big West Tournament after a one-year hiatus.  The Titans are seeking to snap a four-game tournament losing streak, having not advanced out of the first round since defeating CSUN in 2010.

Frosh Leader: In addition to setting the CSF single-season freshman scoring record, currently at 424 points, Khalil Ahmad is the conference’s top scoring frosh at 14.6 points per game, seventh-best in the Big West.

Akoh’s Flow: Sophomore Jamar Akoh tallied his third double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds in last week’s loss to Long Beach State.  He has five games with 10 or more rebounds, and ranks No. 6 in the Big West on the boards at 6.4 per game.

Remember That Titans:  CSF’s first round tournament opponent, top-seeded Hawai‘i, trailed the Titans by four points with 26 seconds to play on Jan. 16, but sent the game into overtime and outscored CSF 14-7 in the extra period.

CSUN

One For The Ages: CSUN lost a triple overtime thriller to UC Davis, 87-83, in the final game of the season on Saturday night.  The Matadors last had played a triple OT game on Feb. 13, 2010 when they lost to Cal State Fullerton by one point.

Free Throw Strength: Through the regular season, CSUN finished as the team with the most free throws made (527), second-most attempted (735) and top free throw percentage (.717) of any Big West squad.  The Matadors attempted 24 or more free throw in each of their final eight contests.

Hale-Edmerson Ends Brilliant Career: Senior Tre Hale-Edmerson finished a exceptional career at CSUN with 813 points, 727 rebounds, 303 assists, 188 blocked shots and 137 steals.  Hale-Edmerson’s 188 swats places him No. 6 in the Big West record book.

Smith’s Impact: Kendall Smith, who missed nine games due to NCAA transfer rules, led the team with 15.3 points per game.  He finished with seven 20-point games.

LONG BEACH STATE

Peaking At Right Time: Long Beach State’s nine wins in its last 10 games, including the last two by one basket, allowed the Beach to finish 12-4 in league play.  The Beach has placed in the top four of the standings in eight straight seasons.

Monson’s Magic: Head coach Dan Monson is now tied with UC Irvine’s Bill Mulligan for No. 7 on the conference victories list at 96.  The ninth-year mentor is 96-50 in Big West play with six straight seasons of 10 or more wins.

Three-Point Record On Notice: With 258 three-pointers made, Long Beach State is on the verge of establishing a single-season record.  The 2006-07 squad currently owns the record of 273.  LBSU, which has hit double-digit threes eight times this season, has not done so since Jan. 23 at UC Riverside.

Faust In The Top 10: Senior Nick Faust is tied with Jibril Hodges (2004-05) for No.198 10 on the LBSU single-season chart for made three-pointers with 74.  Next up on the list are Casper Ware and Donovan Morris at 75, and Tony Darden with 79.

UC DAVIS

Momentum:
Nothing like a triple overtime game to get a team prepared to play in the Big West Tournament.  The Aggies survived the 3OT affair at CSUN, winning 87-83 in the regular season finale and snap a six-game losing streak in the process.  UC Davis had lost its two previous games to regular season co-champs UC Irvine and Hawai‘i by a combined three points.

Five Alive?: The Aggies are the No. 5 seed in the Big West Tournament.  The last two five seeds – Hawai‘i (2015) and CSUN (2014) – reached the tournament finals.

Fan Of The Close One: UC Davis was involved in several close games during the 16-game conference slate.  In fact, half nine of its 16 games were decided by five points or less, with the Aggies posting a 5-4 record.
 
Stepping It Up: Senior Josh Fox has reached the 20-point mark in three of the last six games.  Over the last four, he is shooting 34 for 63 (54%) from the field.  The 6-6 forward ranks No. 6 in the Big West in both scoring (14.9 ppg) and field goal percentage (.515).

UC IRVINE

The Goal: UC Irvine attempts to become the first Big West team since UC Santa Barbara in 2010 and 2011 to win back-to-back conference tournaments.  Since then, four different schools have won over the last four years, including UCI’s first in school history in 2015.

Record Breaking Mamadou: Junior Mamadou Ndiaye became UCI’s all-time blocked shots leader with one swat against UC Riverside.  It was his 209th career rejection, supplanting former teammate Will Davis II from the top spot.

Mamadou Part II: Ndiaye is currently the Big West’s career field goal percentage leader.  The 7-6 center has made 323 for 479 (.674) in 81 career games.  He’s ahead of former Anteater Kevin Magee (1980-82) at .656.

He Can Do More Than Score: Junior Luke Nelson is UCI’s leading scorer at 13.3 points per game – No. 10 in the Big West – but he’s also been distributing the ball at a high rate.  Over the last six games, the 6-3 guard has racked up 37 assists against just nine turnovers.  His 131 helpers this season is the fourth-highest total in the Big West.

UC RIVERSIDE

End The Drought: UC Riverside enters the Big West Tournament as a No. 6 seed, looking to snap a three-game losing streak in first-round games and win its first tourney contest since 2011.  But no No. 6 seed has topped a No. 3 in any of the five prior first round games at Honda Center.

One-And-One: UCR is 1-1 this year against first-round foe Long Beach State.

In The Record Book: The 14 wins for the Highlanders is tied for the second-most in the school’s Division I history with the 2011-12 and 2014-15 teams.

Bland Keeps Climbing: Senior Jaylen Bland moved up two more slots to No. 6 on the Big West single-season three-pointers made list with six last week.  He now has 113 threes, just three away from the top five.

Milestone Watch: Bland enters the Big West Tournament with 980 career points, needing 20 to become the 15th player in school history to reach 1,000.  The 6-3 guard is the conference leader with 10 games of 20 points or more.

UC SANTA BARBARA

Wake Up Call: UC Santa Barbara is in the noon time slot for the Big West Tournament quarterfinals for the fourth time in the last five years.  The Gauchos are 1-2 in the three previous trips to the early game, having beaten Pacific (2012) and losing to Pacific (2013) and Cal Poly (2014).

Streaking: UCSB closed out the Big West slate with a school record eight-game conference winning streak.  The Gauchos have won each of their last four by at least 15 points.

From Three: The Gauchos made 128 three-pointers during conference play, tops among Big West squads.  Over their last four contests, they are shooting a robust 50.0% (40 for 80) from distance.

Gang Green: Senior John Green is providing the Gauchos a lift at exactly the time they need him most.  The 6-5 forward is averaging 15.7 points over the last three games, and is shooting 66.7% (8 of 12) from distance over that span.

Defense:  The Gauchos have kept their last six straight opponents below 40 percent shooting.

HAWAI‘I

No. 1 Seed: Hawai‘i is the No. 1 seed in the Big West Tournament for the first time in school history.  The last top seed to win the tournament title was Long Beach State in 2012.  The Rainbow Warriors reached the finals of last year’s tournament as the No. 5 seed.

Conference Champs: UH’s loss to Long Beach State on Saturday prevented the ‘Bows from winning the Big West regular season title outright.  But they earned a share of the crown, giving the program its first title since 2001-02 when they won the WAC.

What A Job: First-year head Eran Ganot is tied with two legends for most victories by a rookie Big West coach.  The 24 wins equal what Jerry Tarkanian (1969-70) and Lute Olson (1973-74) accomplished in their first years at Long Beach State.

A Note On Bobbitt: Senior Roderick Bobbitt is the first player in Big West history to lead the circuit in both assists and steals in back-to-back seasons.  He is averaging 5.7 assists and 2.1 steals per game this season.

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