Big West Tournament
(8) Cal State Northridge (9-12, 5-9) vs. (9) Long Beach State (5-11, 8-4)
- Time: 3PM PST | 5PM CST | 6PM EST
- Location: Michelob Ultra Arena, Las Vegas, NV
- TV: ESPN3
The rigors of COVID-19 hit Long Beach State early and often with three pauses. The Beach was shut down with no games between Dec. 10 and Jan. 1 and then they only played one game between Jan. 9 and Feb. 1.
Add to the covid protocols the dismissal of Michael Carter, III, two hours before the final regular season game against Cal-Irvine and you have the recipe for one of the toughest seasons on the college basketball landscape.
Long Beach State checks in with a four-game losing streak as The Beach has lost eight out of the last ten games. Luckily, LBSU has been able to play it’s back-to-backs in the Big West regular season in each of it’s last four weekends.
CSUN had one long covid pause between games from Dec. 28 – Jan. 16. The Matadors have lost three out of their last five games and are looking for their first win in Big West Tournament play since 2014.
The winner of the game takes on 1-seed UC Santa Barbara at 11 a.m. PST on Thursday.
Vs. The Spread
Long Beach State:
- The total has gone UNDER in 4 of the last 6 LBSU games
- The Beach is 0-9 ATS in it’s last 9 meetings with the Matadors
- LBSU is 13-7 SU in it’s last 20 matchups with CSUN
- The Matadors check in at 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games
- The OVER has been the play in 4 of CSUN’s last 6 outings
- The total has gone UNDER in 4 of the last 5 matchups between the Matadors and The Beach
Last Time Out
Colin Slater came off the bench to score 15 points for The Beach, but UC Irvine held LBSU to 34.4 percent from the field in dispatching The Beach, 73-58. Long Beach State lost it’s four in a row after a compelling 71-68 overtime loss to the Anteaters on Friday evening.
CSUN dropped a pair of close contests to UC Riverside as the Highlanders won 72-68 on Friday evening and then shaded CSUN, 66-65, on Saturday. In the second game, the Matadors led 21-4 early in the first half, but fell victim to their own turnovers in dropping the game. TJ Starks led CSUN with 25 points as he made 11-of-22 shots.
|Teams||Spread||Money Line||Total Points|
|Long Beach State||+2 (-107)||+115||O 153 (-110)|
|CSU Northridge||-2 (-113)||-135||U 153 (-110)|
Advantage, Long Beach State
The Beach can focus on wiping away the tough season and concentrate on taking games in this tournament one at a time. Despite the loss of leading scorer Michael Carter, III, LBSU will be able to use the scoring prowess and play making of Isaiah Washington (14.4 ppg, 4.3 apg) to work against a CSUN defense that has given up 77.3 points and 46.6 percent from opponents per game. Chance Hunter (11.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and Joe Hampton (10.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg) give The Beach two other scoring threats as does Jadon Jones (7.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg) who led LBSU with 24 triples.
Key 49ers Stat:
Coach Dan Monson is hoping to see Isaiah Washington get back into form as he has struggled over his last three games in averaging only 9.3 points in those contests. He scored double digits in the eight prior games and he logs 34.7 minutes per game throughout the season.
CSUN has struggled so on defense that The Beach will have options in how to attack. The Matadors’ opponents have shot 54 percent from the floor (304th/NCAA), so using 6-8 forward/center Joe Hampton in the paint is a viable option. Hampton has to watch his foul trouble, but he has scored 11.7 points per game in his last three contests where he picked up a 12-point, 8-rebound performance last Friday in the close loss to UC Irvine.
The Matadors can get the ball up and down the floor and they have a solid three-point attack led by Big West leading scorer and first-teamer TJ Starks (21.6 ppg, 3.2 apg). Starks transferred over from Texas A&M and plays 77.5 percent of the minutes while dishing 22.3 assists per 100 possessions. Darius Brown, II, (10.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg) and Alex Merkviladze (10.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg) are two other potent weapons for coach Mark Gottfried. Brown is a hard-working guard who figures readily on the glass and should try to get to the line more as he has netted 37-of-51 free throws.
Key Matadors Stat:
Alex Merkviladze has averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds per game in his last three and has made 25-of-35 field goals. The Republic of Georgia native shoots 46.3 percent from the field and can potentially dominate inside this evening as LBSU will have to key on the three as it allows 35.6 percent from the arc (271st/NCAA).
CSUN has predominantly taken care of the ball well all season as the Matadors average only 11.8 turnovers per game. In what promises to be a ramped up offensive affair keeping in control and converting will be a key. Brown totals 111 assists and only 29 turnovers on the year as his 3.83 turnover ration leads the Big West.
Winner: CSUN (-2) 79, Long Beach State 75