Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Big West conference tournament preview

This is part 30 of a 32-part series that will take a look at every conference and conference tournament in the country.  We'll recap who's playing and what the stakes are for each team in the conference.

The standings:
Hawaii 13-3 (24-5)
UC-Irvine 13-3 (24-8)
Long Beach St 12-4 (18-13)
UC-Santa Barbara 11-5 (17-12)
UC-Davis 6-10 (11-18)
UC-Riverside 5-11 (14-18)
Cal St-Northridge 5-11 (10-20)
Cal Poly 4-12 (10-19)
Cal St-Fullerton 3-13 (10-19)

Tournament format:
Anaheim hosts from Thursday March 10 to Saturday March 12.  No CS-Northridge here.

The matchups:
1) Hawaii vs. 8) Cal St-Fullerton
4) UC-Santa Barbara vs. 5) UC-Davis
2) UC-Irvine vs. 7) Cal Poly
3) Long Beach St vs. 6) UC-Riverside

The stakes:
Don't get fooled by Hawaii's record overall.  Poor SoS, RPI in the 90s says what you need to know.  You need better than UNI as a signature win.  For this reason, they might get buried on the 14 line, although they can move up with enough attrition elsewhere.  Based on pure resume, Irvine might be pretty close to even with Hawaii, although they have the same problem, but with a much better SoS.  In the end, for the #15 conference, the 13 line seems fair.

The real interesting debate is Irvine and the NIT.  I can see an at-large bid there just based on their RPI in the 60s, but it's probably a true bubble case.  They do lack that signature win that makes a difference on the NIT bubble.

In past years, both LBSU and UCSB schedule way up and finish below .500 as punishment.  This year, they both got their heads above water.  And they're top 100 in the RPI.  Alas, there's too many losses for them to make the NIT, but they're shoo-ins for the postseason if they want it.

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