Bracketology 2018-2019 Pt. 4!

The final round of bracketology for the year…

Which eight West Region teams will get the chance to put everything on the line?

According to the most recent official West Region ranking (which they claim went up last Sunday, but definitely wasn’t up last Monday when we did our Bracketology pt. 3 post), the top 10 teams in the west [were]:

  1. Saint Martin’s
  2. Point Loma
  3. Seattle Pacific
  4. Cal Poly Pomona
  5. UC San Diego
  6. Chaminade
  7. Northwest Nazarene
  8. CU-Irvine
  9. Western Oregon
  10. Azusa Pacific

The ranking at the time makes total sense. SMU owned the tiebreaker over Point Loma, hosting was theirs to lose (which they did). Cal Poly Pomona and UCSD had won out, Chaminade had come in #3 in the Pac-West via the tiebreaker with Azusa, NNU had just lost a close one to SPU, CU-Irvine had played respectably against Point Loma and was officially #2 in the Pac-West, Western Oregon put up numbers that suggested they’re dangerous, and Azusa Pacific seems more reasonable than East Bay.

So what happened in the conference tournaments?

#1 Point Loma 67 vs. #2 CU-Irvine 58
#1 Cal Poly Pomona 62 vs. #2 UC San Diego 71

While there was technically an upset, it’s fairly accepted that UCSD and Cal Poly Pomona are pretty darn close, and both were making the tournament regardless.

This means that our Region has essentially two at-large berths.

  • Point Loma has the Pac-West autobid.
  • Seattle Pacific has the GNAC autobid.
  • UC San Diego has the CCAA autobid.
  • Cal Poly Pomona is 100% in via conference record and a good showing in the CCAA tournament.
  • Saint Martin’s is 100% in via a good non-con and their in-conference record.
  • CU-Irvine squeaks into the “safe” category by being the #2 Pac-West team, making the Pac-West championship game, and a lack of major upsets in the other two conference tournaments.

In 2014 we saw GNAC #2 WWU’s bubble burst when a couple of super low-seeded teams in the Pac-West and CCAA won their conference tournaments, respectively.

Two berths remain. Who gets them?

Western Oregon first and foremost. They made their conference championship game, they were in it until the very end, their defense is real, they were on the bubble according to the Rankings even this last week before having a great showing in the GNAC tournament. They have a notoriously good coach, a recent history of consistently making the tournament, and when we ask the question “who would you rather play?” Western Oregon is not an answer we would come up with, and our team literally just beat them last night. We still don’t want to play them again.

One berth left and a number of solid candidates, so… Let’s talk about them:

East Bay: We would love to see them in this Regional, they lost a close one to the overall winner of the CCAA tournament, they led the CCAA for a huge chunk of the year, they’ve been really consistent, but it is also clear that they are a step below UCSD and Cal Poly Pomona. When asked “who would we want to play?” in the Regional, East Bay is a super easy answer.

Chaminade: They were third in the Pac-West, they have a win in non-con over Western Oregon, their loss in the Pac-West tourney comes via CU-Irvine, they’ve taken Point Loma to overtime, and they have a win over UCSD in non-con, but… The Pac-West is weak this year, and they didn’t lose to their champion.

Azusa Pacific: Nope. Azusa has a history of being good. We know they’re better than this normally, the committee knows they’re better than this normally, and the Pac-West is down and so there’s no benefit-of-the-doubt headed their way. The one thing they have going for them is that they did lose to Pac-West Champ Point Loma by the same amount CU-Irvine did, so there is an argument there, but… Not quite enough in non-con, conference play, nor the conference tournament.

Northwest Nazarene: Nope. Non-con was nothing special, they don’t play with great fundamentals, the “what have you done for me lately?” category they had chance after chance to prove themselves and they did nothing. In the recent, they’ve lost to Western Oregon, Saint Martin’s, and Seattle Pacific twice, while barely squeaking out a win over Simon Fraser on what was Simon Fraser simply being incompetent.

So… Who makes it? Honestly, it’s the same situation as last year when we have seven deserving teams and eight bids.

As it comes to the big question of “who would you rather play?” and you’re looking at schedules and results, we would say we would rather play East Bay than Chaminade, and thus… Perhaps Chaminade gets the nod? Again: We still lean toward East Bay being given the benefit of the doubt because they did lead the CCAA for so long this year, in addition to having been down for so long. This is our eighth year and we’ve never known East Bay as anything but a CCAA doormat, and so it’s really cool to see them excelling, in particular for us because it’s our beloved graduate school coach at the helm.

And thus our seeding is:

  1. Point Loma
  2. Seattle Pacific
  3. UCSD
  4. Cal Poly Pomona
  5. Western Oregon
  6. Saint Martin’s
  7. CU-Irvine
  8. East Bay

If Chaminade makes the tournament, the seeding is going to have to be super weird because we believe that you can’t have in-conference in the first round unless four teams from one conference make it. Here’s a possible seeding including Chaminade:

  1. Point Loma
  2. Seattle Pacific
  3. UCSD
  4. Cal Poly Pomona
  5. Western Oregon
  6. CU-Irvine
  7. Chaminade
  8. Saint Martin’s

We don’t like that seeding because it feels super weird to include a team that lost a recent head-to-head right next to another team in the seeding. It also feels weird to have a team go from the #1 seed to the #8 seed.

In terms of our own headspace about our own team, that being SPU,… We would rather play SMU than WOU, even though mathematically we beat WOU by more. We would rather play CU-Irvine than Chaminade, just because we played CU-Irvine earlier in the year rather than the unknown of Chaminade. And maybe that’s why we feel so strongly that we’d rather play East Bay? Because we know that coaching staff really well.

Regardless: We feel strongly that UCSD and Cal Poly Pomona are very close and should be seeded as such. As much as we don’t trust Seattle Pacific, we do feel that they have earned the #2 seed in context of their body of work against the other teams, although… We’re naturally paranoid. No game is ever over until it’s over. “40 full minutes,” is one of our favorite things to say.

We were super impressed with Western Oregon. They didn’t have the best night offensively, but their defense kept them it until the very end. That’s dangerous. They’re also super experienced as it comes to March and their coach is the master of second half adjustments. We never trust them for ANY amount of time. We actually switched SMU and WOU as we were writing this.

SMU it’s a matter of “what have you done for me lately?” and they lost it against WOU. They barely escaped a bad CWU team. The game off to rest could be working really well for them, they got Jared Matthews back, or they could be exhausted and fading. It took until 2OT for them to procure the outright regular season conference title rather than sharing it with SPU.

But again, it feels weird that SMU would fall from #1 to #6, and so having SMU be #5 and WOU be #6 would be acceptable as well.

CU-Irvine/Chaminade is great at seven because it feels like SPU is locked in at #2 and so GNAC/Pac-West, and then East Bay #8 because great run, lost to the champion, but not sure if anyone is super scared to play them.

Alright, the selection show is starting now, we already know Point Loma is hosting, and right now we can’t find the live stream because NCAA D2, what are you gonna do?

Be safe, have fun, and always remember: West Coast is Best Coast!