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Up and down starts for Big West teams

How good is the Big West Conference this season? It’s hard to tell based on the first three weeks.

Hawai’i is in its first season in the Big West, and it appears that the Warriors will have to be ready for every conference game because every team appears unpredictable.

A signature win for the conference came over the weekend when Cal Poly upset then-No. 11 ranked UCLA, 70-68, at the New Pauley Pavilion. Does that make Cal Poly the early team to beat in the Big West? Hardly. The Mustangs are 2-2, and only six days before their upset of UCLA, they lost at home to Fresno State.

A similar up-and-down team is Pacific. The Tigers are 3-3, with impressive wins over Xavier and Saint Mary’s, but losses to Fresno State and Oral Roberts.

The team with the best record so far is Cal State Northridge at 6-1, although the Matadors are coming off an 87-75 loss at Brigham Young. Northridge’s worth will be tested in the coming weeks with road games coming up at UCLA and Arizona State.

Long Beach State was the preseason pick to win the conference, but the 49ers are off to a 2-3 start. All three losses, however, have come against quality opponents (North Carolina, USC and Arizona).

Former Hawai’i rivals Fresno State and Nevada could be good measuring sticks for the Big West. Fresno State is 3-1 against Big West teams, with wins over UC Riverside, Cal Poly and Pacific, and a loss against Long Beach State.

Nevada, which won the Western Athletic Conference last season, beat Cal State Fullerton and lost at UC Irvine, and has upcoming games against UC Davis, Pacific and Cal Poly.

Hawai’i is 4-1 with a big road test coming up this Saturday at UNLV. The Rebels are ranked No. 24 in this week’s Top 25 Poll. Illinois, which beat the Warriors on an overtime buzzer-beater, moved into the Top 25 this week at No. 22.

The Big West Conference games are scheduled to begin on December 29.

BIG WEST STANDINGS

9 Comments

  1. Yes, that is why UH MBB team has to improve in all areas. and keep up the maximum effort..BWC..any team could win that BWC tourney..UH has to step up…UNLV and DH Classic big tests..I think the whole season will be interesting..UH has to keep on the upswing.!!

    Go Rainbow Warriors!!

  2. Well researched article.

    Big West teams have been highly volitile so far this year. Even teams like Irvine looked very good early on, but started slipping as of late. Pacific is another one of those teams that has solid wins, but couldn’t win the home games they were suppose to.

    Hawaii and Northridge have been the most consistent thus far. It’ll be interesting to see how we do on the road this week in a legit road environment. Northridge, on the other hand, has done fairly well in their San Diego tourney with wins over Tulsa and Siena.

    Unfortunately for RPI purposes, Long Beach State doesn’t get their two transfers eligible until December. And the other preseason favorite, Fullerton, lost a few big men due to academic ineligibility and for personal reasons.

    Currently the Big West, as a whole, sits at #12 in the RPI, while the WAC is at #25. However, it should be noted that Jeff Sagarin currently predicts the BW finishing at #20.

  3. Hawaii is #26 in the CIT midmajor poll (thank you Riley Wallace for informing your colleagues).

    http://www.collegeinsider.com/new/mens-mid-major-top-25.php

  4. I’m not sold on CS Northridge at all. They have played a very soft schedule and were beat by BYU (who’s good, but not great).

    LBSU lost badly in their 3 losses to quality opponents. I predicted they will have a drop-off from last years great season. They have to replace at least 4 starters from last year. The publications have them overrated this year. They will still be near the top of the Big West, but there’s no way the replace all the production from the starters lost.

    Cal Poly’s win vs UCLA was very good, but Ben Howland (UCLA’s coach) plays a slow tempo that allows inferior teams to hang around. UCLA should be top 5 with their talent but their style of play doesn’t allow their players to fulfill their massive potential. Cal Poly has only shot 40% from the field and 68% Free throws and has only averaged 62ppg this year. That’s not going to win many Big West games.

    Cal Fullerton is an interesting team… They’re a run n gun team that shoots a ton of 3’s. They lost both games vs quality opponents this year, but they have hammered their softies this year. Their style of play will be tough to handle for many teams. Fullerton only have one player over 6′ 7″, so if UH dominates the rebounds, as expected, UH should handle them.

    Pacific is a Jekyll and Hyde team. They have two good wins vs St Mary’s and Xavier, but have really bad losses also.

    Cal-Irvine isn’t that good… They played UCLA tough, but see comment above.

    UCSB, UC Davis and Riverside aren’t very good.

    This is UH’s one year to get back to the Big Dance. It’ll be tough because of the inexperience, but Long Beach is rebuilding this year and UH has a massive size advantage vs the entire conference. I say it’s a one year window because San Diego St comes to Big West in 2013 and they are really good and getting better. If all goes well, SDSU, UH and Long Beach will be the top of the conference for a while.

    I only hope another Big West team steps up to give the conference a 4th good program because if the Big West has 4 quality programs, they should be able to get an at-large bid to give the Big West two tickets to the Big Dance.

  5. Former UH Athlete:

    Mahalo plenty . …thank you for your observations and insight, I really appreciate it from a former UH athlete and UH alumunus!!

    I agree, BWC , an up and down league..UH has to play to strengths..they still have , I think 15 games left to play, non conference and in conference in Hawaii, so that is a positive..the travel to Cali, should not be too much of a factor…those, small , almost HS gyms..I would imagine are the tough ones to play in, if those Cali teams

    have 900 to 1200 in attendance..some times UH MBB, team hard to focus, and fans right up on the court..UH has to keep on being focused …I think they are, .though, BM CS in SA, commented, when Jace out, of practice, offense and team flow, erratic..Jace is like having a coach on the court, when he is the PG, the team runs well

    on offense..Hopefully, and I think if Jace relaxes..he will be good for 6 or 7 pts a game, maybe 8 assists, a steal, 3 rebounds..hopefully 65% or better from FT line..75% or better in last 5 min of game..he produces that, and with help, D up , also use his very, very strong frame and height to post, or drive the gaps,..and dish or lay in and one..Team will be competitive here and on the road..

    Can’t say enough, UNLV game on the road.. good gauge of where UH MBB team is , and how progressing, 6 games into season..

    Yes, key: UH MBB warriors are peaking going into Jan through March..then go in and win that BWC tourney, I think they have a shot as well as any…Being in the BWC , travel wise is a win win situation in my opinion..not that killer, New Mexico St. , La Tech, road swings, and Moscow Idaho, and points in between,..talk about mileage..wow, killer , the old WAC, even worse!!

    Well, hope Jace and Jawato are recovered from their ailments and ready for road trip..!! Every guy from 1 though 12 is needed to get a road win!!

  6. UNLV been in Div. 1 ball a long time, garrans they scouted. They’ll know who to foul in crunch time if it comes to that. I just hope our guards are up to the task in making 80% of them free throws. If they do that then it’s good to say Coach fixed the problem, if not then I don’t know, it’ll always be UH’s Achilles Heel

  7. Former UH Athlete,

    Fullerton’s one player that you mentioned over 6’7” (6’9” John Underwoord) quit the team moments before the season started. They also lost 6’7” Givon Crump (a former Hawaii recruit).

    Cal Poly actually was behind in their UCLA game by 18 points with about 10 minutes remaining to go. If anything, UCLA had a major meltdown.

    And about Northridge, I too thought they would be very bad this year, especially coming off a probationary season. However, their coach, Bobby Braswell, is getting much respect for the job he has done lately. Under Braswell, they’ve beaten a ranked UCLA team on the road in recent years, so this week’s UCLA game will be a nice barometer. They’ve also won the Big West two out of the past five seasons. And they were actually in their BYU game in Provo. BYU actually pulled away with under 3 minutes remaining.

    For Long Beach, they’ll get two high profile transfers eligible in December. The first transfer, Keala King, was the leading scorer for Arizona State last season (the first half of the year). He also was a top 30 recruit out of HS. Their second transfer is a very good power forward from DePaul and averaged about 9/6 in the Big East. They also have another 6’11” big that’s injured right now. If Dan Monson can get them to mesh, there won’t be many Big West teams that can compete with their talent. Hawaii might be the only one.

  8. Rest up Jace and Jawato and don’t give your bug to the rest of the team. Everyone else take a flu shot now. That’s a order!

  9. Great write-up Dayton, although I would hardly consider USC a ‘quality’ opponent. Did anyone else see the way they got schooled by the Illinois? Whom I don’t even consider that good. In any case, I think we have an excellent shot at winning the conference, going to the big dance, and hell even a first round win in the tourney isn’t out of the question (depending on the kind of match-up we get). Okay, perhaps I’m getting a little ahead of myself…lol

    Well, the Bows face a huge test this Saturday, which I think they have an excellent shot at pulling off. I won’t be able to watch it but I’ll be following every moment!

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