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Big West weekly review-preview

UC Irvine continued to roll the competition, and thus rolled even closer to the Big West Conference regular-season championship.

The Anteaters scored two blowout victories last week (70-55 over Long Beach State, and 87-64 over CSUN) to improve to 11-2 in the conference. They have already clinched at least a tie for the regular-season title, and can clinch it outright with one more victory (or a UC Santa Barbara loss).

The other positions in the standings, however, are far from being decided. Here is a look back at some of last week’s games, as well as a look ahead to this week.

Muddled in the middle

With just two weeks of the regular season remaining, positions 2 through 8 for the Big West seventh place.

UC Santa Barbara is currently in second place at 7-5; Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State are tied for sixth/seventh at 5-7. In between are UC Davis (7-6), Hawai’i (6-6) and CSUN (6-6).

Bottom watch

In addition to the closeness in the middle of the conference, there is also tight race to avoid the bottom. There are nine teams in the Big West, and only the top eight will advance to the conference tournament.

Cal Poly is currently in ninth at 4-9.  However, the Mustangs are only one win behind UC Riverside (5-8), Cal State Fullerton (5-7) and Long Beach State (5-7).

Best game of last week

Hawai’i 56, UC Riverside 55. The game featured two teams on four-game losing streaks, and perhaps fittingly, it went down to the wire. It was a wild contest, with the Warriors going on separate scoring runs of 13-0 and 21-4 in the first half, but the Highlanders countering with separate runs of 13-0 and 11-0 in the second half.

Game to watch this week

UC Santa Barbara at UC Irvine, Saturday. The Anteaters could very well come into this game with the regular-season title already clinched (they play at last place Cal Poly on Thursday). Still, the second-place Gauchos will come into this one looking for something to prove – and perhaps solidify the No. 2 seed for the conference tournament.

If, by rare chance, Cal Poly is able to upset UCI on Thursday, and UCSB is able to get past UC Riverside, then Saturday’s game will have much more meaning.

Player of the Week

Max Heidegger, UC Santa Barbara. The 6-3 senior guard averaged 22.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game while leading the Gauchos into sole possession of second place with two victories last week.

He had 27 points, seven rebounds and five assists in a win at Cal State Fullerton, then added 17 points, four assists and two rebounds in a crucial win over UC Davis.

Latest NET rankings

In a reflection of the current conference standings, UC Irvine is making its way up the NET rankings, while the rest of the conference appear to be dropping.

103 – UC Irvine
171 – UC Santa Barbara
208 – UC Davis
212 – Hawai’i
216 – UC Riverside
251 – CSUN
263 – Cal State Fullerton
288 – Long Beach State
324 – Cal Poly

The NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) is a measuring tool that relies on statistics and other variables to rank all 353 NCAA Division I teams.

This week’s games
Wednesday

CSUN at Long Beach State

Thursday
UC Irvine at Cal Poly
UC Santa Barbara at UC Riverside
Cal State Fullerton at Hawai’i

Saturday
Long Beach State at UC Davis
Cal State Fullerton at CSUN
UC Santa Barbara at UC Irvine
UC Riverside at Hawai’i


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