With the 2015-16 NCAA Basketball Regular Season on its way out it’s time for the Conference Championships that precede the March Madness Tournament that begins on the 16th of March 2016. Thus today we are previewing the 2016 Big West Conference Championship that take place from Thursday the 10th of March thru Saturday the 12th on March 2016.
This is what they call pre-madness as this tournament for the Big West Conference begins, and with 2 strong teams leading the pack in the UC Irvine Anteaters 13-3 and the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors 13-3 but let us not overlook that there are some other teams that can win this title. Other contenders could be Cal Poly, UC Riverside or UC Santa Barbara and have the ability to surprise fans in this tournament.
With that said let’s begin by taking a look at some favorites starting with the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors 24-5, 13-3 Big West whom took part of the Big West Title as the beat 67-65 UC Davis, and then lost their last season game to Long Beach State. But they have reason to be confident since they are the No. 1 seed in this tournament starting tomorrow.
Their claim to fame has been there shooting which is 3rd in conference at 45% while ranked 3rd in offensive scoring with an average of 74 points each game to date. Their shooting stars this season are the trio of S. Jankovic, A. Valdes and R. Bobbitt, while Jankovic leads the trio with 15.8 points and 6.9 rebounds each game, and Valdes has been with 14.5 points and 15.5 rebounds each game.
Their floor manage has been Bobbitt as he’s their everywhere player that has averaged some13.4 points each game with 5.8 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 2.4 steal each game. Yes, this Rainbow Warriors talented team could easily win this Tournament of the Big West.
Then come the UC Irvine Anteaters (24-8, 13-3 Big West) but came out as 2nd seed in this tournament, and a lot of length goes with the team as their center M. Ndiaye is 7 foot 6 inches and a player who actually stands above all on the court. He is strong on the inside accumulating some 7.4 rebounds each game as well as 2.5 blocks. In the backcourt he is assisted by L. Nelson and A. Young with Nelson scoring 13.6 points each game and Young averaging 11 points each game and the 2 guards for the season have a combined 8.7 assists each game to date.
Then we have a couple of Sleepers with the 1st being the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (17-12, 11-5 Big West) a team that ended their season with 8 consecutive wins and with a conference record of 11 and 5. The team can be a vicious opponent to any challenging team, if they can limit that opponent’s number of shots taken, as they are 2nd in conference for defensive field goal percentage at .421 for the season.
The team is not a scoring team, but have one of the top players in the conference who has averaged 19 points each game and that’s M. Bryson. If he gets hot the Gauchos just might create some upsets.
Another Sleeper is the UC Riverside Highlanders (14-18, 5-11 Big West) whom struggled closing their season going 1 and 7, but that 1 win was a incredible victory over the top team the Rainbow Warriors back on the 25th of February 2016.
In this tournament if the Highlanders are to bring about any upsets it will depend on their trio of J. Bland, S. Johnson and T. Johns since all 3 have averaged scoring double digits this entire season. Johnson is averaging some 13 points, Johns some 15.6 and Bland with 16.1 each game for the 3 players.
Then last but not least we have the Long Shot in the Cal-Poly Mustangs (10-19, 4-12 Big West) whom are on the bottom if the heap in the Big West, but thankfully they have a favorable 1st game with 2nd seeded UC Irvine Anteaters and that’s the team that they lost to in OT 78-72 back on the 3rd of Feb. 2016, and then last week lost to them again 72-64 this past 3rd of March 2016.
With this game being played on a floor that is not home to either team the Cal-Poly Mustangs could bring about an upset if they can stimulated their duo of scoring teammates in D. Nwaba and R. Morgan along with B. Bennett and J. Awich all have their beat games. Some seem to think if the Mustangs can win that game, they may just have what it takes to win this conference title.
The online betting prediction for this Big West Championship is that the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors will overpower the slate, win this Big West Title and move on to the “Big Dance.”