Big West Championship
(1) UC Santa Barbara (21-4, 13-3) vs. (2) UC Irvine (18-8, 10-4)
- Time: 8:30PM PST | 10:30PM CST | 11:30PM EST
- Location: Mandalay Bay Casino, Las Vegas, NV
- TV: ESPN2
The UC Irvine Anteaters are synonymous with March as coach Russell Turner’s team is the bench mark of the Big West as the Anteaters have had four consecutive appearances as well as five of the last seven years.
UC Irvine is looking to advance to it’s second straight NCAA Tournament and third over all as they knocked off Kansas State, 70-64, in 2019.
UC Santa Barbara won it’s fifth Big West regular season conference tournament as the Gauchos haven’t been the No. 1 seed since 2010.
Coach Joe Pasternak is 87-33 in his four seasons at the helm at UCSB as the 87 wins are the most in a four-year period in school history.
The Anteaters hung two of the four losses on UCSB back at the end of December. UC Irvine has also won 7 of the last 8 in the series.
Vs. The Spread
- The total has gone UNDER in 5 of UCI’s last 7 games
- UCI is 7-1 ATS in it’s last 8 games vs. UCBS
- The UNDER has been the pay in 4 of the Anteaters’ last 5 games in March
- The Gauchos are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games
- The UNDER has been the play in 9 of the last 11 games between the Anteaters and Gauchos
- The Gauchos are 9-1 SU in their last 10 games
Last Time Out
Dawson Baker and Collin Welp scored 17 points apiece and DJ Davis added 14 as UC Irvine rolled to a 78-61 win over UC Riverside. The Anteaters converted 26-of-30 free throws and held the Highlanders to 34.4 percent from the floor.
Amadou Sow had a season-high 23 points as UCSB defeated Cal-Davis, 71-55. JaQuori McLaughlin added 17 and Ajare Sanni added 14 as the Gauchos went 28-of-34 from the line.
|Teams||Spread||Money Line||Total Points|
|UC Irvine||+2.5 (-102)||+133||O 126.5 (-110)|
|UCSB||-2.5 (-118)||-153||U 126.5 (-110)|
Advantage, UC Irvine
The Anteaters’ signature is their dogged determination and efficiency on defense as they are 10th in effective defensive field goal efficiency and 31st in defensive efficiency, per ken pom. They have held Cal Poly and UC Riverside to 32.1 percent in the two wins in the Bg West Tournament as only one team has shot over 40 percent vs. the Anteaters since a Feb. 12 loss to UC Riverside.
Key Anteaters Stat:
Big West all-first teamer Collin Welp and Brad Greene are a solid pair of bigs which Russell Turner uses to set the stage in his deliberate often which accrues 18 seconds per possession. Welp averages 14.7 points per game while Greene (9.5 ppg, 7.5) rebounder per game leads in rebounds while shooting 52.5 percent from the field. Big West Freshman of the Year Dawson Baker shot 52.7 percent as a 6-3 small forward. His athleticism is a big plus vs. opposing defenses who may have bigger guys at the position.
The back court of Isaiah Lee and Jeron Artest will need productive minutes against Jaquori McLaughlin and Devearl Ramsey. Artest is a solid assist man while Lee joins Baker as the most productive three-point shooters. The Gauchos have had problems defending the triple as opponents make 35 percent on the season.
The Gauchos are the irresistible force (offense) and the Anteaters are the immoveable object (defense). UCSB leads the league in making a league leading 47.6 percent of it’s field goals while scoring 74.3 points per game which is second in the Big West. League Player of the Year JaQuori McLaughlin and Amadou Sow are a terrific inside-outside tandem who is tough to defend as Sou makes 60 percent of his shots down low while McLaughlin (15.9 ppg) leads the team in scoring as he and backcourt mate Ajare Sanni can both get to the line and lead in three-pointers made with only 23 each.
Key Gauchos Stat:
The Gauchos make 52.3 percent of their two-point shots as they are good off the dribble as well as using Sow to a prime advantage in the paint. They have shot over 50 percent in their last four games while making 58-of-71 free throws.
Miles Norris plays a quiet role as the Gauchos’ fourth leading scorer (9.2 ppg) and second leading rebounder (4.6 rpg). The transfer from Oregon saw his minutes and production climb in his first season with the Gauchos as he shoots 48.1 percent from the floor.
Winner: UCSB (-2.5) 68, UC Irvine 64