Sorry for all of the late posts this year. We’re in the middle of writing (and re-writing, and re-writing, AND RE-WRITING) our masters thesis. Our masters is in engineering management and our thesis is on indoor agriculture.
Anyway… Let’s jump right in to talking about Saturday’s games.
UAF 75 @ NNU 104
The Nanooks hung around for much longer than we expected (almost the entire first half) but by halftime the Nighthawks were in control.
Nanook highlights: Michael Kluting had a great game with 16 points and 13 boards for the double-double plus a full house of stats. Off the bench Jalon McCullough had five points; Tre Eisenhut had nine points and five boards; Zach Hatch had 15 points; and Daulton Lootens had six points and four boards.
Nighthawk highlights: Obi Megwa had 34 points and five assists; Sam Roth was on fire with 20 points and seven boards on 8-9 shooting from the field; Beto Diaz had nine points; and Spider had 10 boards. Off the bench James Nelson had 10 points; and Jayden Bezzant had 13 points.
Pretty par for the course. Excited about Sam Roth’s numbers; he’s usually a great role player, but this was hopefully a good break-out game. They’re gonna need him next year, big time.
UAA 92 @ CWU 85
Never count out the Wildcats to terrify you down the stretch. UAA was in control, they were cruising, and then CWU went ham and it went down to free throws. We love how clutch CWU is -it makes for really fun and really exciting basketball, even if they don’t win. Plus, isn’t it more fun for winning teams to have the fear of God put in them? We hate it when we’re in the middle of it, but it is way more satisfying afterward.
Seawolf highlights: Tyler Brimhall had 21 points and nine boards; Niko Bevens had 11 points; Brennan Rymer had a whopping 30 points, nine boards, and nine assists for the near-miss of a triple double; Jack Macdonald had 11 points; and Brian Pearson had 15 points and eight boards. No real bench play.
Wildcat highlights: Gamaun Boykin had five boards; Naim Ladd had 11 points; and ZELLIE HUDSON had 24 points and six boards among a full house of stats. Off the bench Jackson Price had six points; Lewis Pope had five points; Malik Montoya had 12 points; and Hayden Nelson had six points.
We get why Malik is no longer starting (he’s a senior in a bad year and the Wildcats have a number of young guys + he makes their bench a lot deeper) but… He’s still a starter in our heart. Much as we consider SMU to have seven starters, we definitely consider CWU to have six.
WWU 90 @ MSUB 94
Props to the Vikings for coming back. The Yellowjackets were absolutely blowing out the Vikings, but… Reeled them back in. And then the Yellowjackets went up a fair bit late in the second half, but the Viks reeled them back in. While WWU didn’t get the win, it’s clear they’re still fighting and they have plenty of opportunities to cause problems for teams in the coming two weeks.
Viking highlights: Tyler Payne had five fouls; KJ Bosco had five fouls; Leif Anderson had 14 points; Trevor Jasinsky had 12 points and six boards; Cameron Retherford has started functioning!!! And had a whopping 19 points and five boards meanwhile going 7-8 from the line. Off the bench Tucker Eeinigenburg had four boards; RJ Secretst had five points; Braden Ahlemeyer had six points; and Micah Winn had a whopping 19 points.
Yellowjacket highlights: Zharon Richmond had six boards; Tyler Green had 20 points and seven assists; Melvin Newbern Jr. had 12 points on great shooting; and Zack Rollins was rolling with 22 points and six boards. Off the bench Kobe Tereshima had four boards; and BRENDAN HOWARD had 20 points and eight boards meanwhile going 7-7 from the line.
Brendan Howard is quickly becoming a pet of ours. He’s super productive and one of our favorite Mariners of all time is Brendan Ryan and so… Name associations can help you. That said, we’re a little nervous because there have been a number of Yellowjackets that have shown incredible promise early in their careers before doing absolutely nothing for the rest of them, so… We’ll see. Congrats to the Viks on a good fight and congrats to MSUB on getting the win.
CU-PDX 50 @ SPU 78
Not what we were expecting. And we get that we watched Concordia get slaughtered two days earlier, but… This could be one of the more horrible match-ups in terms our biases this year because we chronically underrate SPU and yet are probably way overly optimistic about the Cavs.
Cavalier highlights: Tyler Wells had 11 points; Dominique Bradley had five boards; and Dakota Ayala had 17 points. Off the bench Cody Starr had four boards; and Xavier Smith had six points.
Falcon highlights: Coleman Wooten had 16 points and seven boards; Harry Cavell had seven boards among a full house of stats; Nikhil Lizotte had 12 points; Nathan Streufert had seven boards; and Gavin Long had 10 points on good shooting. Off the bench Sharif Khan had five points; Sam Simpson had four boards; and Divant’e Moffitt had 10 points and four boards while going 6-7 from the line.
Divant’e is another guy that’s quickly becoming a pet because like Brendan Howard, he’s a super productive player. And he’s a freshman. And SPU does in fact have the history of players getting better, looking at you Mr. Coleman Wooten.
Congrats to the Falcons on the win… Concordia, we still think you’re great <3. Falcons, if we tell you you’re great it might go to your heads and we can’t have that because we want to make the Regional. Yes Braden Olsen, we just inadvertently paraphrased you, credit where credit is due.
WOU 56 @ SMU 64
On the one hand, it felt like SMU was in control the entire time, on the other hand it felt like WOU was always threatening to grab the victory down to the last minute or two. Ultimately the score is probably pretty representative of the game overall; not a comfortable win, but also not a super close win.
Wolf highlights: Dalven Brushier had five boards; Kaleb Warner had 12 points; and Riley Hawken had six boards. Off the bench O’anda Baker had six points; Buster Souza went 4-4 and had eight points; and Cameron Cranston had five points.
Saints highlights: Luke Chavez had 11 points; Rhett Baerlocher was ON FIRE and had 17 points and 12 boards among a flawless full house of stats; and BJ Standley had 10 points, five boards, and four assists.
Fun game. Oddly paced game. It was great to watch Rhett Baerlocher break out. Wish we got to keep him for another year.
Those games talked about, let’s briefly talk about how the conference tournament looks as of now:
Saint Martin’s, Northwest Nazarene, and Seattle Pacific have all officially clinched spots.
Vying for the final three places include Western Oregon, Alaska Anchorage, MSU-Billings, Simon Fraser, and Western Washington.
While CWU and Concordia aren’t quite mathematically out, it seems highly unlikely because they would have to win all of their remaining games. CWU still has to play both the Oregon schools and the Puget Sound schools (yikes) and Concordia has to play at the North schools, plus host NNU.
Simon Fraser and WWU are both sitting at 6-9, meanwhile having five games left to play because their second match-up was postponed due to snow. This week they’re in Alaska and then the following week they play each other and then host the Oregon schools. The North teams are projected to split the Alaska schools and then who knows against the Oregon schools.
MSUB is at the Puget Sound schools this week and then in Alaska next week. Woof. Tall order. It’s not that we think the Yellowjackets can’t do it, it’s that it is arguably the hardest road in finishing conference play.
UAA thankfully will be favored in most of their match-ups (hosting the North schools, and then hosting UAF & MSUB), so thankfully they have a great shot at making the conference tournament BUT as we noted in the bracketology post: It does them no favors if they were hoping to end up with an at-large bid.
On paper now… We feel confident that WOU is going to make it, but we have no idea what’s going to go down as it comes to WWU/UAA/MSUB/SFU.
We’ll be at the SMU @ SPU game tonight. We have no idea where we’re sitting, but we’ll likely be wearing navy blue and then knitting as usual, so come say ‘hi’!
We’re 100% Switzerland for this game because on the one hand SPU is our alma mater and we love them dearly; on the other hand we also love SMU and if the Saints win out they’re likely to host the Regional.
We keep almost picking one side or the other, but… SWITZERLAND. All we want is no injuries and great basketball played by everyone. Amen.
Be safe, have fun, go GNAC!
This was largely written on Wednesday 1/25.
When we last checked in with them, we had the following information:
San Fran State
Who’s still in the run to host?
Chico State -close losses to UCSD and CPP, but that’s it.
UCSD -dropped their last two games to San Marcos and Sonoma.
Hawaii Pacific -shockingly only has one loss. The region getting split is actually starting to look like a possibility.
San Fran State -out; losses to UCSD and Chico, without the SOS from non-con that those schools have.
Cal Baptist -one loss, that being to Dixie State; Dixie State is a really good team; not in the running to host due to losing to CWU, but a good team all the same.
WWU -added, because while they had a questionable non-con, they only have one in conference loss thus far, and are looking super deep.
Do we know who’s hosting?
At this point no.
Prediction: Split regional. Hawaii Pacific and either WWU or Cal Baptist.
WWU is currently playing at Whatcom Community College, and they’re eligible to bid to host the tournament, but unless the Regional gets split, we don’t support it. The gym is just too tiny. We would make the same argument with CU-Portland -the Whatcom and CU-PDX gyms only hold maybe 1200 people, which yeah the non-local rounds tend to be fairly empty, but we worry about opposing fans being able to get Sweet 16 tickets, especially if say we ended up with a WWU/CWU match-up.
100% Guaranteed making the regional as of last check:
San Fran State
Western Washington is definitely still in, but what about the other schools?
Cal Baptist = yes
WWU = yes, 100%.
Chico = yes
San Fran State -downgraded to the bubble, see below.
Hawaii Pacific = Yes; their spot is now officially safe. The only question mark they have is that they beat the Alaska schools in Hawaii; UAF has looked questionable, Anchorage has been good but not the elite team we projected them as before the season, thus non-road wins and not as quality as anticipated.
Here are the bubble teams from before, minus the guaranteeds:
UCSD -100% in provided their skid stops now.
Chico -100% in provided they stay on the trajectory they are now.
San Fran State -bubble team, but a solid bubble; losses to Chico and UCSD, as well as an okay-ish loss to WOU in 3OT in non-con on the road.
East Bay -Now 5-6 in conference.
Cal Baptist -100% in.
Hawaii Pacific -100% in.
Dixie State -true bubble team; they’re really good, their SOS is good, but bubble.
Azusa Pacific -Now 5-6 in conference; relatively good non-con schedule, thus we still see them as a threat for the autobid, but they’re not on the bubble for a bid without it.
Western Washington -100% in; only have a GNAC loss to MSUB.
Central Washington -true bubble team, they’re tied for 2nd in the GNAC right now, but their lack of non-con puts them on the bubble.
Alaska-Anchorage -true bubble team, they’re tied for 2nd in the GNAC and that loss to Hawaii Pacific is looking really good.
Seattle Pacific -we said last time it was their coaching staff; a 40 point loss and they switched it up. We don’t quite consider them turned around, but they’re theoretically no longer in free fall, which they were through the first half of conference play.
Saint Martin’s -they’re in position to make the conference tournament and they need to win it in order to get a bid. They’re good, but they’re very up and down.
MSU-Billings -We have no idea what’s going on with this team. They beat WWU in Bellingham, beat UAA and WOU in Billings, and then lost by 50 to SMU in Lacey. Zoinks. They have good and experienced players with a good and experienced coaching staff, plus super soph Preston Beverly, but………….. What’s going on??
Not sure where WOU was on that list last time, but we will note now that they’re definitely a threat to get the conference autobid. They’re finding themselves again after being rather up and down.
At half way through conference play, who are you eight teams in the tournament?
San Fran State
1. Cal Baptist co-host
2. Hawaii Pacific co-host
3. Western Washington
4. UC San Diego
5. Chico State -this feels low, but UCSD non-con + head to head.
6. Central Washington
7. Dixie State
8. San Fran State -good schedule
We went with the co-hosting, because while HPU has lost to Cal Baptist, Cal Baptist lost to Dixie, which is in the 2nd half of the seeds and has a loss to CWU, thus we feel that it could be merited to split the Regional. We’re fine with Cal Baptist hosting, we’re certainly not trekking out to Hawaii, but for now we’re going with the split -maybe just because it would be a bit exciting. West Coast Pride, split regional, unique to us because as far as we know there’s no Puerto Rico teams in a conference -they’re all independent.
What’s your crazy prediction?
That three unexpected teams get the autobids. We couldn’t tell you who in the other two conferences, but in the GNAC every single team that makes the conference tournament will be seen as a threat. Lucky for WWU, they should be safe regardless. There’s a ton of implications within the bubble teams, basically:
UCSD lost to WWU (quality)
Dixie lost to CWU (quality)
UAA lost to HPU (quality)
UCSD lost to Chico (quality)
SFSU lost to WOU (quality-ish)
And then CBU lost to Dixie, but quality loss and quality win, respectively.
The thing with that mess is we couldn’t tell you which bubbles would burst if three unexpected teams got the autobids. SFSU, Dixie, and maybe CWU? CWU has a pretty strong bubble (that’s a good thing) because they’ll have a lot of head-to-heads with a potential GNAC bubble burster that gets the autobid, and then the victory over Dixie State. If Azusa gets the autobid in the Pac-West that would speak even more to CWU not having their bubble burst. But Chico is amazing, WWU is amazing, and that doesn’t even get into CBU and HPU.
The one knock on Chico is lack of SOS, which is the same knock on HPU, which calls our prediction of CBU into hosting into question, because if Chico gets the nod it’ll only be Chico. Chico’s only black mark on their schedule is the lack of SOS. Otherwise they’re golden. Same with WWU. WWU even has a coveted in-region road victory against a most-likely tournament bound team in UCSD -and that wasn’t close; they blew the Tritons out big.
Overall, we still feel like we really don’t know anything, which is odd, but when we feel like we do know something, y’all’ll be the first to find out.
After one weekend of play, we told you teams that were still officially in the running to host the Regional:
Nine teams could’ve potentially hosted, when there are only eight bids. Here are the teams from that list still in the running, along with the reasons as to why:
Chico -still in, still definitely; they’ve only dropped one game and that was to a very good UCSD team. We think at this point, provided they don’t self implode, they’re making the Regional 100%. Hosting is the question.
UCSD? – definitely maybe; they only have losses to WWU and Cal Baptist, but now they’re in the awkward position of needing to hope that CBU does incredibly well, but still loses three or four games to knock them out of hosting.
Chaminade -No; not the convincing strength of schedule and winning numbers to split the regional. Their best win is against SPU and that win doesn’t look very good this year. They also have a lot of losses already, even with leaving out the D1 losses.
Azusa Pacific -No. Lost to SPU, beat WOU, their record is 7-7, nope.
Cal Baptist -Absolutely. Even with the mess of parity, their only loss is to Dixie State and they played both Cal Poly Pomona and UCSD in non-con. Great strength of schedule.
WWU -We’re still not sure if they’re even eligible to host because of playing at Whatcom and the logistical/infrastructure nightmare that would be, but we don’t think they’re going to host unless other teams majorly implode. The Vikings simply don’t have the West Region SOS nor the out of region wins. They have a massively good win at UCSD, but that’s literally the only amazing highlight of their non-conference.
SPU -LOL. No. But last time we didn’t want to include them; we had to.
CWU -They have a great record, with only losses to Mankato and Anchorage on their sheet, but again: they lack strength of schedule. Although we’d kill for the Regional to be hosted in Ellensburg -definitely our favorite GNAC trip.
WOU -No. Too many losses and too many other teams without losses to their big tests in non-conference.
We had Hawaii Pacific on our “ish” list and while they’ve now won out, they still don’t have the strength of schedule and we don’t see them getting through the conference season with a max of two losses, which is what they’d need, in order to split the regional. It’s true that Cal Baptist/Chico/UCSD could implode and that could shove it Hawaii Pacific’s way, but… We’d assume the selection committee would rather keep the region together and with SOS being such a new criterium, weight it heavily.
Is there anyone we want to add to the list? Yes and in a big way:
San Francisco State. They’ve won out in non-conference and are currently undefeated, although their strength of schedule is somewhat lacking; their best win is @ WOU and that went to triple OT in the first game of the season. Right now they’re our pick to host the Regional as of now, because just win baby, win!
The Regional could end up being split between SFSU and Hawaii Pacific, which wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, but… We still feel like hosting is Cal Baptist’s to lose. Being undefeated is one thing, but being truly tested before conference play is another and Cal Baptist definitely has the latter.
What teams do we have making the Regional 100%?
San Fran State
Here’s a list of all of the teams that are currently in control of their own destiny regarding making the Regional:
San Fran State
East Bay -only two losses come via SF State and Western Washington, but they got killed by both. We’ve liked East Bay for a while -they give teams fits at Mac Martin every year.
Hawaii Pacific -they’re only a maybe, because they didn’t play any true road games in non-con.
Azusa Pacific -they’re currently 7-7, but they have wins over Dixie State and Western Oregon, as well as a couple of potentially quality losses to West Texas A&M & Seattle Pacific-ish.
The following looks excessive, but seriously: We can justify it.
Western Washington -because duh. The two teams they just lost to by a collective five points or so will likely be 1-2 in the Lonestar Conference and both are 100% in the South Central Regional.
Central Washington -why they lost to Anchorage, we don’t know, they have the most minimal of non-con, but if they win 14 games in conference, there’s no reason they wouldn’t be in the tournament.
Alaska-Anchorage -lose one more game and we say they no longer control their own destiny, but they have a good team and for right now: they are in control.
Seattle Pacific -We constantly talk crap about the Falcons, but the fact is that they have SOS, have a history of doing well, and we firmly believe that it’s the coaching staff holding this team back -not the players. When the coaching staff decides they want to win, they’ll be able to.
Saint Martin’s -they did what they needed to in non-con. Every conference team is going to lose multiple games. Non-con saves them. They’re in control right now.
MSU-Billings -they are as close to not being in control as you can possibly get, but while they lost in non-con, it was to East Bay and Cal Baptist on the road, which looks legit.
We originally had WOU on that list, but we honestly hadn’t looked at just how bad their non-conference went. They have no SOS, what-so-ever. They don’t control their own destiny -they need other teams to lose in order to make it in. When we think about it, would we take a 17-1 WOU team over a 17-1 Hawaii Pacific/Dixie/Azusa/UCSD/Chico/San Fran/East Bay? No. East Bay is the only ‘maybe’ in there, and all of that requires those teams to lose.
14 teams. Eight spots. Five at-large. We think the five at-large bids are already spoken for. This is a year when the auto-bid is going to be dire. We have no idea what’s going to happen at all. Literally, the prediction posts are going to be 100% pointless. We just don’t know.
In the GNAC, here’s what’s happened so far:
MSUB beat WOU
Concordia beat MSUB
NNU beat Anchorage
Pick ’em Games:
UAA @ CWU = UAA
UAF @ CWU = CWU
WWU @ SPU = WWU
There’ve only been 10 conference games played and three of them were upsets while three of them there was no way to pick a winner prior. It’s just going to get worse. If this blog has taught us one thing in regard to predicting basketball games: the more knowledge we have, the less we know. Darn all of these really good players that we know can completely change a game on any given night!
If you have something you want us to discuss tomorrow, tweet at us or leave in the comments -otherwise, we’ll catch you guys on Thursday for the game previews.
On the agenda for today: MSUB @ Chadron State, NNU/Sleeper Teams and their bullies, SFU’s schedule, and our posting schedule issues.
MSU-Billings 89 @ Chadron State 69
Just how bad is Chadron State? Answer -them playing in the RMAC may inadvertently cause some of the other RMAC teams to violate the Geneva Convention. It has been said that Green circle runs at The Summit At Snoqualmie are the Bunny Hill at Stevens Pass. Lower-mid teams in the GNAC are JV teams in the RMAC. The RMAC is typically a very, very good conference. So that could actually mean that MSUB just beat a good team by a lot. We’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime:
Yellowjacket highlights: Preston Beverly had 13 points; Marc Matthews had 12 points and five boards; Kamal Tall had 11 points and six boards; Kendall Denham had 11 points off the bench; and Christian Evans had an insane double double of 23 points and 11 boards off the bench.
Good showing by the Jackets. The rest of you can thank MSUB -they’re a huge part of the reason we don’t write anything about non-D2 games; we love them, but they have a habit of losing to a whole smattering of NAIA teams from the Frontier conference, which is in fact wayyy weaker than the Cascade Conference. GNAC teams often play Cascade teams, but we consider those loses/close wins to be relatively okay because the Cascade Conf. is legit. As we’ve noted before: they often send four teams to a 16 at-large, 32 team overall tournament.
When sleeper teams wake-up.
We’re using NNU as the example because it’s the most recent and they had a schedule quirk that makes it even better:
During the year that NNU got really good once they got Alex Birketoft into their line-up, they played SPU three times. They played them once in December before they had him, and twice in a row in March; once as the regular season cap, and the other in the conference tournament. Okay, NNU played a game in between that, but for SPU it was twice in a row.
The first time SPU blew them out by 30. Okay, whatever, they didn’t have Alex, they were yet to get insane. The second time, SPU got to hear about NNU being soooo good and upsetting WOU on the road (something SPU couldn’t do) and so on and so forth, wow, NNU is great. While normally SPU might keep things humane or overlook the Crusaders because they like them (Christian schools, no real recruiting battles, etc.) this time it was like “NNU thinks they’re so good and are going to come in here and upset us, so let’s kill them.” And they did. And then they did it again out in Billings six days later.
We never know what to think of sleeper teams. We always hope that there is one because they’re so fun and dynamic. Two full years later we’re still mad that we didn’t get to see NNU in person that year. We were originally going on the SPU trip, but ended up going to MSUB at CWU instead (hella good game, btw) and so it wouldn’t have mattered anyway, but… Alex, Erik, Kevin. The dream. When Bouna could still be our obsession as the 6th man. And Kendall Denham was a breaking out starting freshman rather than a bench junior. We miss Kendall in the starting line-up, cm bck bby.
We look forward to hopefully another sleeper team this year, although we have no inclination as to who it’ll be because we don’t consider SMU a sleeper. Other people do, we don’t.
On SFU playing tournaments with SPU:
SPU: If you set up these games with us, we’ll bring SFU -guaranteed win against a D2 opponent, plus either a good win or a quality loss against us.
California schools: Deal!
SFU: Ummmmm Falcons, I thought you said there’d be an overlook factor???? Falcons??? FALCONS??? DON’T MAKE US GET OUR BOWS AND ARROWS. WE BEAT YOU TWO YEARS AGO YOU STUPID RETRIEVER BIRDS.
NNU your loss to College of I is completely irrelevant because they in fact are in the Cascade Conference, which is the class of NAIA D2.
We’re from the Cal-Pac, so we’re not even biased when we say that -Cascade is just straight up baller.
Why has the posting schedule been all messed up this year?
A number of reasons:
a. At the beginning of the year 10/11 teams were complete unknowns.
b. Now all 11 teams are completely unknown. SFU has had some good moments, UAA has had some bad moments, but none of that means anything because every conference seems to be in flux.
c. 35+ teams in the West Region are in flux. It makes things more complicated, it makes the extrapolation of data that much more meaningless, and while we’ll speculate on stuff all day long, how much of it any given person needs to read in a blog post is a different matter.
d. We’re finally working 40 (read: 50) hours a week at a somewhat big-person job and it’s exciting and we love it, but we’re yet to catch a rhythm yet and with how much variability there’s been in what’s going on with any conference team, there’s simply less blogging to be done this year so far. Things’ll mellow out and ramp up as we get into conference play.
Alright. Game previews’ll be up Friday morning, go dawgs, have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.
We don’t get many statistics back about our readers, but one thing we do get is what country you’re reading from, and as such: We see you Kevin Rima =) ❤
On the horizon for today: Can we pick the Regional host after just one weekend of play? Can we pick the teams likely to make the tournament? Strength of Schedule? And why we don’t pay attention to non-D2 results.
Can you pick the Regional host after just one weekend of play?
No. But we can tell you that a bunch of teams are eliminated. SOS counts officially for D2 now. Here are the teams that by our calculation are still vying for the chance to host:
Chico -wins over CU-I and Dominican.
UCSD -wins over Dixie, Azusa, and Point Loma.
Those two are legit in the hunt to host. San Marcos and CSULA haven’t played any D2 opponents yet and so while they’re technically still in the hunt, it seems unlikely. The rest of the teams have either not strong enough wins or losses to teams that are likely middle-of-the-pack in their respective conferences. While there are always exceptions, generally speaking they aren’t regular. The last four years we’ve successfully picked the Region Host in December of that year. This is premature, but not very.
Chaminade -Beat the Alaska schools, still has to play SPU.
Azusa Pacific -lost to UCSD, but their projected strength of schedule is still insane.
Cal Baptist -undefeated with good SOS still to play.
Hawaii Pacific -Beat the Alaska schools, but doesn’t have any strength of schedule besides that. They’ll have to lose a max of one game in conference to make this schedule work.
Point Loma -Lost to WOU and SMU, we think the loss to SMU officially rules them out because we don’t think SMU is anything but an auto-bid tournament team, but PLNU theoretically has plenty of SOS left -they still play SPU and CSULA. We think CSULA will be good in conference, but if you don’t schedule yourself well in non-con there are teams that do and so it becomes a win out scenario.
WWU -this one is interesting because we’re not sure they can host because they’re playing at Whatcom Community College, which only seats like 750 people. Maybe Carver will be done in time? Maybe the low capacity isn’t a problem? They’re still definitely in the running via play -two wins on the road and still plenty of SOS available in a road game against UCSD and a neutral site game against perennially good Tarleton State.
SPU -We’re as shocked as anyone with how little they return, and while we don’t think it’s going to be a possibility much longer the fact is they won both games and they have plenty of SOS available with a game at Azusa, a neutral site game against Point Loma, and then games against the Hawaii schools in Hawaii.
CWU -That would be fun. We’d love to see CWU host again because the E-burg drive is our favorite. They won both games in California, although their SOS is suspect because they didn’t blow either team out and the only other west region SOS they have comes from Dixie State. CWU needs to be rooting like heck for SPU, WWU, and WOU in particular during the rest of non-con, because those teams all have better SOS and thus the Wildcats need regular season wins against those teams to look elite.
WOU -Took care of business on the road, but their SOS is also lacking in that all they have left is Dixie State and Westminster (RMAC). We love the Wolves and still think they’ll be fine in terms of making the tournament, but it seems like the odds of doing to the conference schedule what they did last year are much slimmer, and thus it would really help to have scheduled more SOS. In the era that Jim Shaw was at UW, that was the biggest knock on Romar’s teams -they lacked non-conference SOS, and it made Selection Sunday stressful. Granted, the Wolves won’t get sent cross country, but they could get sent to Hawaii. And saying that… Wow, Hawaii, that just sounds horrible. Sarcasm.
We think the Alaska schools are officially out of the run to host because both dropped two games in Hawaii and the only other D2west games they play are against middle-of-the-pack opponents at home this weekend. Either team would need basically an undefeated season in conference or all of the teams above them to completely fall apart. Not just one team above. Every team above from all three conferences. NNU is like CSULA/San Marcos; they just don’t play anyone in non-con and thus will need to run the table in conference and that’s hard to do that even with an NCAA tournament veteran, return-every-key-piece team like WOU had last year; considering what NNU has chronically been, it’s for all intents and purposes impossible.
Strength of Schedule is like applying to med school. There’s the method of having a bunch of extra curriculars, volunteering, and/or being a student athlete and submitting a 3.3 gpa (losing to quality opponents in non-con) vs. only focusing on school, and thus needing the 3.98 (either win out or only lose once in conference play). Two different paths, both a way to the dance, but we see the former as much more preferable to the latter. The autobids are often like the kids that have 2.0s coming out of high school, but score 2350 on the SAT and have their pick of colleges because the reality is they’re smart, they just didn’t care.
In summary, potential hosts still include: UCSD, Chico State, Cal Baptist, Azusa Pacific, Chaminade, WWU, SPU, CWU, and WOU. Oddly enough that’s nine teams -one more team than will be eligible to qualify for the regional, and yet we don’t think those are necessarily the teams that will qualify. It’s much easier to qualify than it is to host, because qualifying allows conference losses, auto bids, that sort of thing. The only way you’re going to host as an autobid is if you’re within those nine teams, and those nine teams are likely to get paired down substantially in the coming weeks.
Who do you think is still in the running for an at large bid?
Well, first of all: UCSD, Chico State, Cal Baptist, Azusa Pacific, Chaminade, WWU, SPU, CWU, and WOU.
But also: CSULA, San Bernardino, Cal Poly Pomona, Dixie State, BYU-Hawaii, Hawaii Pacific, CU-Irvine, Point Loma, UAF, UAA, SMU (technically), and MSUB. The GNAC teams we obviously know more -MSUB returns a ton. They’ve been playing terribly, but they return a bunch of proven-to-play well D2 guys. Same with SMU, it feels unlikely for them to qualify for an at-large bid, but we believe in that team and they host the conference tournament, so it feels like of all years, this could be the year they break through and get that auto bid. Humboldt also seems like they again have the potential for the autobid but aren’t likely for an at-large.
Basically half the teams are still in the running. The conference gauntlet is intense for every conference and we just don’t see any other team being able to overcome their lack of SOS by losing fewer than five conference games. We’re guessing that four is going to be the magic number, and that’s with SOS. A number of the teams listed above will require three losses or less, and more likely two, plus at least a win or two in their respective conference tournament.
We’ll see if we disagree with ourselves by this time next week, or better yet the week after.
Why don’t you count D1/other division games when looking at teams and how good they are?
Because they’re one-offs on both sides. D1 teams will often write off D2 opponents and play down to our level. We as D2 often write off D3/NAIA opponents and do the same thing. EJ Poulsen just had five boards against Lewis and Clark. Who cares? He was probably the tallest guy in the game by four inches and he would never play enough minutes to do that in an actual D2 game. That’s what happens in a lot of D1 games too -they do a lot of player rotation early and then go “oh shoot, these guys are better than we were thinking,” and they clamp down and blow a team out. The other side is they continue to rotate players knowing the talent gap and it remains closer than would be if they were playing for real but the fact is they’re not; it doesn’t count against their SOS to lose to a D2 opponent, even if it is embarrassing.
The only teams that have made the tournament in recent history after beating D1 opponents have been SPU in 2012 (Arizona) and WOU in 2015 (Oregon State) and both were at-large bids, thus still had incredible D2 evidence for being elite in the west. The Arizona and Oregon State games made exactly zero difference, because it’s a one off. Why would anyone put much precedence in one game when there are 25 others against truly similar opponents to look at? It’s just straight up cray, but when you make it to the NCAA D2 West Regional: you’re playing D2 opponents. If you want the D1 games to matter, be like Seattle U., abandon the GNAC and join the ranks of D1. *shakes head* Redhawks are such losers.
Pretty much it for today. Game previews’ll be up tomorrow AM and then… Nightlights? Most likely.
Just some thoughts that are kicking around. We’ll see how this goes.
Why did Humboldt State make it?
Because they received the auto-bid via winning the CCAA tournament.
Would Humboldt have made it without the auto bid?
No. They had no non-conference strength of schedule and lost eight in-conference games.
Why didn’t Alaska-Fairbanks make it?
1. Because they lost in the conference championship game and thus failed to procure the GNAC’s auto-bid.
2. Because while the Nooks were hot to end the season, they had no strength of schedule -something that’s now an official criterium. Strength of schedule largely comes from winning on the road and scheduling tough teams during non-conference. UAF didn’t play a single true road game, and while playing on a neutral court (MSUB) they lost both games to Dixie State and Dominican, respectively. And remember -this was a Dominican team that had a loss to NNU during non-conference. Had Alaska-Fairbanks literally won out in conference play (or gone something like 18-2) they would have had an argument for an at-large berth even without the strength of schedule, but they were competing for an at-large against teams that did have strength of schedule.
Who was the first team out?
In our opinion Dixie State. Dixie State had good strength schedule but lost too many non-conference games. They went 18-5 in conference, same as UAF. That goes to reiterate that even had UAF had strength of schedule, their bubble may have still burst. In non-conference Dixie lost to SFSU, Seattle Pacific, and Sonoma State; while beating Alaska-Fairbanks and MSU-Billings. Say Humboldt doesn’t get the auto-bid, you go back to that UAF/Dixie match-up, and you’d have to go with Dixie. But UAF returns a lot; they’ll have every opportunity for an at-large berth next year.
What do you think about the seedings and the resulting match-ups?
We agree with the match-ups. The seeding was incredibly variable -there were so many good arguments for the teams that made it being in spots 2-7, that we can’t complain at all. What we find hilarious is that while the seedings were variable, the optimal match-ups weren’t. Here’s a graphic that shows as much:
Three different seedings. All the same match-ups. Is it annoying to have the two GNAC teams potentially meeting up in the second round? Sort of, not really. The keyword there is potentially. While we have complete faith in the Wolves, we’re terrified of the Azusa match-up from an SPU perspective. The Falcons haven’t been playing particularly well and the brilliant cohesion we saw during non-conference hasn’t been seen in weeks. We’re incredibly worried.
In no year do seedings truly matter because the West Region is always a mess, but this year especially. Six teams. Toss them into a hat and draw names; that’s your seeding. In the D1 tournament it’s said that if you want to win, you have to beat everybody. On the D2 level that sentiment is on steroids because there are only eight teams and in years like this, it can mean that two could-be Elite Eight level teams meet in the first round. Cal Baptist and Cal Poly Pomona? Absolutely. Both 100% have the talent and skill to make it to the Elite Eight. There’s a 1/8 chance that either team will. Every team in the region this year has shown the ability to be at the level, including Humboldt. It’s going to be such a huge matter of who can get hot at the right time. This year’s GNAC tournament was balls-to-the-wall crazy and we have no idea what to expect out of the West Region. Even knowing the types of blowouts Cal Baptist and Humboldt State managed and the type of blowouts Azusa Pacific and Chico State were subject to, there’s no telling what’s going to happen.
And we love it. Welcome to the effing madness, put your seatbelt on because it’s going to be a wild ride.
Are you going to the Regional this year?
Yup, so come say ‘hi!’ if you’re there. Unfortunately we’re going to miss the first two games of the day because of work commitments, but we’ll be following the stats and keeping up on twitter, so whether you’re in Monmouth or watching at home -tell us what you think! You can either @ us on twitter via @GNACMBBlog or come talk to us in person during the second session. We’ll be wearing maroon and acting really hyper; we keep trying to calm down and be a grown-up, but it hasn’t happened yet.
Will there be game previews on Friday morning?
Absolutely. It’s on our to-do list for today, so theoretically that means it’ll be done by tomorrow. And yes: We will be talking about every game.
Are you going to talk about non-GNAC teams if both get bounced in the first round?
Most likely not. We don’t usually get enough hits to make it worth it, and we found it kind of drove our in-conference followers bananas last year, even previewing non-GNAC games. We’re 50/50 on that this year, just because there is so much interlocking play and it has been so intriguing from a regional perspective, but… Most likely when the last GNAC team’s season ends, our season will end, and we’ll get into our post-season awards and those types of posts.
Alright, any questions not answered: Ask us on twitter or leave a comment. Otherwise we’ll see you guys Friday morning for the West Region Day 1 preview.
Yesss, it’s that time again! Although the Madness doesn’t really apply to the GNAC quite yet -we’re talking about the CCAA in terms of the heading.
The big news of last night is that Chico State lost by a lot to Cal State LA. It is what it is. As noted earlier: We feel completely confident that they’ll still get a bid, but being wrong is our best subject, so… We hope we’re right, but it’ll be what it’ll be.
6. Western Oregon
7. MSU Moorhead
15. Chico State
18. Cal Baptist
22. Cal Poly Pomona
Others receiving votes: Seattle Pacific (25), CO School of Mines (22), Azusa Pacific (9), Alaska-Fairbanks (2).
Big thing: Where is UCSD? Once again, we feel like the regional rankings are very different from the national rankings, although the national rankings aren’t terrible. Good to see UAF getting acknowledged -they’re coming on really strong at exactly the right time and we’re super thrilled. APU/SPU who knows.
Regionally… We were —- that close to doing a regional ranking, but at this point it feels almost too close to do one? Maybe later this week if we get the urge.
Some Pac-West chaos -four teams finished with the same record, one of them is ineligible for the conference tournament. Absolute chaos. No idea. It’s one of those things where we feel like we were vastly more right closer to non-conference than now after watching the entire season of conference play even with all the disappointments and excitements and everything. Crazy, crazy stuff.
After conference play we felt like we could make an educated guess. Now we have absolutely no clue because there is that much parity. And that goes for all three conferences.
UAA lost to CWU, what does it mean?
Nothing. Central is a good team, as is Anchorage. With the Seawolves in particular, we prefer good teams to lose late regular season games as one final gut check before win-or-go-home comes into play. We still think Anchorage is an at-large team. Every other team on the bubble has a loss to a non conference-tourney bound team; UAA doesn’t. The Seawolves also meet our criteria of having at least three good players, two 50/50 players, and a nutso coach. We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again: Our non-basketball former undergraduate coach is off his rocker and we completely swear by him. Crazies do it better. We just think the refs need to reign in Coach Oz a bit more, because at this point GNAC refs seem a little too accustomed to his crazy and so what would get another coach suspended doesn’t even get Rusty a technical.
SMU killed WWU, what does it mean?
Again, nothing. The Vikings have no teamwork; the Saints have teamwork. Only three guys were shooting well, they got those guys the ball, and they fought hard for rebounds. We’re honestly still pretty mad at Anchorage for dropping the CWU game; so unnecessary. Get the ball to Brian McGill and the Saints would be going to the conference tournament. Although, as we reminded some WWU people after the game: you control your own destiny. The Saints offense had nothing to do with the Viking loss. The Seawolf loss had nothing to do with the Saints season ending.
Reality is a brat.
SPU almost lost to WWU, what does it mean?
That things are going back to normal, the Falcons will never recover, all of their players suck, and the world is ending, obviously. No, the Vikings finally started solidifying a high-effort line-up meanwhile the Falcons started messing around with their own. Was there some sloppy play by SPU? Absolutely. Was there some great play from WWU? Definitely. Still, we feel like the score was an adequate description of the game and a good reminder to both schools of what it takes to win critical games.
Not a whole lot to discuss at this current point in time just because everything is happening at once and there’s so much speculation. We’ll preview the GNAC tournament tomorrow morning and go from there. Lots of wait-and-see. Have a great afternoon!
Lots to talk about today, including: CU-Portland @ Western Oregon, WOU losing to UAF, SPU losing to SMU, the point of the conference champion auto bid and why Western Oregon still gets to play in the tournament, the GNAC’s ever changing start line-ups, our usual check-ins with the Pac-West and CCAA, national rankings, and regional rankings.
Concordia 74 @ Western Oregon 81
Concordia was in it the whole time but couldn’t pull it out, granted WOU was going deep into their line-up and really rotating guys. Still, Andy Avgi had a less than stellar game, which… Maybe that means teams are finding out how to contain him? Maybe.
Cavalier highlights: Drew Martin had a full house including nine boards and no turnovers; Latrell Wilson had five boards; Jarrett Gray had 9 points; and Riley Hawken had 17 points. Off the bench Davis Nuaimi had 12 points; and James Phillips had six points.
Wolf highlights: Julian Nichols had a fantastic game with 11 boards, five assists, and 14 points on near-perfect shooting; Jordan Wiley had 18 points and five boards; and Andy Avgi had five assists. Off the bench Alex Roth had five points and five boards; and Tanner Omlid didn’t start due to senior night and had 15 points and four boards.
Pretty good stuff all around. Pleased with the Wolves performance. Laughing at the Cavalier one, just ’cause. Good luck with MSUB y’all.
WOU lost to UAF, what does it mean?
Nothing. The Wolves are so far ahead of everyone in the west region that they could have lost last night’s game, lose the game at MSUB, and lose in their first game of the conference tournament and still host. They lost their #1 ranking but that doesn’t matter in any real sense of anything except maybe taking the target off of their backs just slightly.
SPU lost to SMU, what does it mean?
Nothing. Well, it may ultimately have seeding implications but in the D2 tournament seeding matters a heck of a lot less than in the D1 tournament because it has nothing to do with where you’re sent. Your region only has eight teams and the west region has repeatedly proven that the seeds don’t matter -whether it’s because lower seeds are likely to upset higher seeds or because by virtue of having so few teams, really good games get played really early and thus awesome teams get bounced early by other awesome teams as often as not.
Why is WOU still playing in the conference tournament when they have a bid locked up?
Isn’t the point of the auto bid to get more conference teams into the tournament? Doesn’t WOU going waste that spot? The basic reason is that this year we’re getting lucky in the sense that the GNAC is fully locked into likely at least two teams going to the tournament 100%. That doesn’t always happen. The only guaranteed bid in any given year is the autobid spot. And sometimes it’s impossible to tell whether or not the team that won the regular season title would get an at-large bid.
The easiest example is Seattle Pacific vs. Western Washington in 2014. That year WWU had little strength of schedule, SPU had plenty, won the conference regular season title, and had a good resume overall but the GNAC was viewed (rightfully) as the weakest conference in the West by far. Ultimately Seattle Pacific won the tournament and procured the autobid, the CCAA and Pac-West had auto-bid only teams punch their tickets to the Dance, and WWU’s bubble burst. But would the Falcons have made it regardless of winning the conference tournament? Maybe. Not guaranteed. By placing the autobid with the conference tournament winner rather than the regular season champion, you’re betting that your conference is good enough to receive more than one bid. It doesn’t always happen and there needs to be consistency, thus WOU is still in play for winning the conference tournament.
Non-solidified starting line-ups?
Yup. A ton of teams in the GNAC are still shifting their starting line-ups and their rotations even when injury has nothing to do with it.
–UAF is solid.
–UAA is being affected by injury (get better soon Diante!).
–SFU yes, but whatever.
–WWU didn’t quite implode their line-up, but they finally took their do-nothing big out and put in a guy that actually plays with effort and we’re suuuper happy about it. They also only went seven deep against NNU even while being up by 30, which again we’re super happy about because their chemistry has been off and now it appears that they’re only really playing guys who give a crap, which helps a lot.
–SPU, it’s complicated. It appears they’re planning for next year as much as they’re trying to win this year.
–SMU finally took Fred out of the starting line-up, thank God.
–MSUB has line-up movement, but we’re 50/50 on it -we trust their coaches, but 50/50 on its effectiveness and whether or not you could even tell if it did in fact affect things because they’ve been so all over the place in terms of results on any given night.
–CWU is solid and we love their line-up.
–NNU yes, like SFU, that team is such a mess that it’s not super relevant.
–CU-Portland see NNU.
–WOU is solidified and again: We really like their starting five and adore Alex Roth as the sixth man.
Checking in with the Pac-West & CCAA
And boy was this weekend a doozy.
UC San Diego lost to San Marcos by six.
Chico State lost to Cal Poly Pomona by six.
Humboldt State lost to Stanislaus eight.
Cal Poly Pomona lost to Stanislaus by 12.
Humboldt State lost to Chico State by eight.
Chico State is now in first place with a record of 15-3, while UCSD moves into second with a record of 14-4, Cal Poly Pomona is third at 13-6, San Marcos fourth at 11-7, and Humboldt State and Monterey Bay are tied for fifth at 11-8.
Interesting games coming this weekend:
San Marcos @ Humboldt State
San Marcos @ Cal Poly Pomona
Dominguez Hills @ Chico -this is a big game simply because DH has been giving some of the top schools a lot of problems this year and we think that’s a good thing.
CU-Irvine lost to Azusa by 9
BYUH was killed by Chaminade, 86-115
Azusa was killed by BYUH, 61-84
Dominican lost to Dixie State by 10.
CU-Irvine is currently holding onto first at 15-4, Cal Baptist, Azusa Pacific, and Dixie State are all tied for second at 13-5, Hawaii Pacific is fifth at 12-6, and BYU-Hawaii is sixth at 11-8.
Interesting games coming up this weekend:
Point Loma @ Hawaii Pacific
Concordia @ Dixie State
There are a few more potential interesting games involving Hilo, but we’ll see how it plays out.
WHEELING JESUIT IS IN FIRST. Sorry, we’re not right often thus when we are, we enjoy it for all it’s worth.
6. Western Oregon
7. MSU Moorhead
13. Chico State
19. UC San Diego
24. Cal Baptist
25. Cal Poly Pomona
Others receiving votes: Colorado School of Mines (18), Seattle Pacific (13), Azusa Pacific (8), Alaska-Fairbanks (2), Alaska-Anchorage (1).
So lots of west region teams being looked at and valued. We’re not sure about Cal Baptist at 24, but at this point the regions are now off dealing with our own issues and so the national rankings start looking a little odd.
We were going to make our ranking before looking at the one that people smarter than us had come up with, and then we realized we really have no effing clue and are a little bit too close to things at this point, so here’s the official one with us providing color commentary:
1. Western Oregon -wholly 100%, love it, agree, go Wolves, can’t wait to see you guys in Monmouth.
2. Seattle Pacific -WE WANTED TO DO THIS BUT THEN FELT LIKE WE WERE BEING HOMERS AND CAN’T STOP THINKING ABOUT ALL OF THE ISSUES THE FALCONS HAVE AND… We agree with the placement, but feel uncomfortable.
3. Chico State -They’re coming on at the right time and a part of us feels like they should be ranked ahead of the Falcons because the early season loss was early and the Wildcats have come so far; the lost to CPP doesn’t feel relevant either because we still feel like the Broncos are a really, really good team.
4. UC San Diego -completely agree.
5. Cal Baptist -absolutely -making their moves at the right time.
6. Cal Poly Pomona -definitely.
7. Azusa Pacific -yeah?
8. Alaska-Anchorage -YESSSS.
9. Humboldt State
10. Dixie State
Interesting that UAF isn’t in that conversation. We neither agree nor disagree. On the one hand they did nothing in non-conference. On the other hand, they really don’t have a bad loss in conference play; they’ve lost twice to Anchorage and then split with WOU and SPU. We’re 50/50 on whether or not they have a better resume than Humboldt.
We’ll probably discuss this more on Sunday morning after conference play essentially finishes up (there’s one more game, but neither team is conference tournament bound) and at that point we’ll visit our friend BitoBaca who’s putting up his rankings today at 1pm.
We’ve said before that this is the weird year when we feel like the committee can’t really be wrong, hence why we’re probably both so hesitant to write anything. Because if wanting to predict the bracket completely right is your thing, this year you’re screwed. But the good part is that almost whoever you put (within the 18 teams making their respective conference tournaments) you probably have a pretty legitimate argument. We like the 10 teams above a whole lot and feel really good about the eight and where rankings are and all of that stuff, but again…
At this point we feel like we’ve let ourselves get a bit too close to the situation in terms of wanting the Pac-West to be a one bid conference after doing it to us a couple years ago. Even though we KNOW that WWU should have won more in order not to rely on the autobid. And we don’t regret the end of that game. At all. That’s where we’re at with that, which is why we’re siding with the official poll, because there are just as many arguments saying that ‘No, Cal Baptist is coming on strong at the right time and Azusa is completely legitimate and if you discredit them you also discredit SPU which discredits WOU which discredits UCSD which…’ Rabbit hole. We will say that we don’t think the Pac-West should be a three bid league and so if neither Azusa nor Cal Baptist wins the conference tournament, then things could be more interesting. With the other two conferences: UCSD, Chico State, Western Oregon, and Seattle Pacific all should be in regardless, so if two of those teams win their conference tournaments great, but if they don’t that’s great too.
Alright. Good talk. Chime in with your bracketology thoughts in the comments or on twitter, and we’ll see you tomorrow morning for GNAC game day previews.
On the agenda today: SPU @ Saint Martin’s, SPU’s bubble, State of the West/Rankings, the GNAC race, and GNAC frosh of the year.
SPU 64 @ SMU 68
Well, that happened. Coming into this game we called it; we’ve liked SMU all year and now that Fred finally isn’t starting the Saints have been running and it’s good. And it was a good game. It was fun to watch Gilles and Fred face off. We tend to think Fred is a better defender but Gilles is less problematic with cohesion considering he can actually run. Really interesting to see two drastically different 7’0 European bodies. Gilles looks like a ballet dancer next to Fred’s brontosaurus.
Falcon highlights: Bryce Leavitt had a double-double including 11 rebounds; Brendan Carroll had five boards; Gilles Dierickx had a double double with 11 boards and 10 points; Mitch Penner had five boards. Off the bench Garrett Swanson had 11 points on 7/8 shooting from the line.
Saint highlights: Cole Preston had five boards; Rhett Baerlocher had nine boards and 16 points; Tyler Copp had 12 points. Great play off the bench with Trey Ingram having 21 points; and Brandon Kenilvort having four boards and seven points. We said this on twitter, but: Brandon Kenilvort needs a smaller pair of shorts; the ones he currently wears are limiting his range of motion and impacting his game negatively.
Again: Very good game played by the Saints, shots were on fire, very deserved and earned win. Two incredibly young teams facing off and the Saints got it done, so lots of hope for the future. With SPU, Gabe (their new point guard) is learning and he needs to be broken in and he’s fine. It happens. He’s a frosh and the learning curve is better right now than early next year.
Did SPU’s bubble just burst?
Shockingly no. They have a lot of non-conference and strength of schedule credit. They’re slumping and it’s frustrating, we know that more than anyone outside of their coaching staff, but we trust the process because we haven’t been given any reason to doubt it. In terms of strength of schedule, here’s what the Falcons have:
- OT loss to CU-Irvine (would be 100% in the tournament)
- Win at Dixie State
- Win against BYU-Hawaii
- Win at Chico State (is 100% in the tournament)
- Win against Azusa Pacific
- Win at Alaska-Anchorage
- Two close losses WOU
- All in-conference losses have been within a possession or so.
They need a bounce-back game against Billings on Saturday. It’s going to be rough because MSUB loves to win in the SPU gym (and we support them wholeheartedly in it) and they’re coming on strong at the right time. Hopefully SPU gets it together and takes the Yellowjackets seriously because if they don’t: It could be a very long night.
The State of the West
Is its usual mess, but here’s a compilation of regionally notable results from the last week:
Alaska-Anchorage lost to MSU-Billings
Seattle Pacific lost to Central Washington + Saint Martin’s
Western Washington lost to CU-Portland
Cal Poly Pomona lost to Monterey Bay
San Marcos lost to San Fran State + got killed by Sonoma
UC San Diego lost to Chico State
Dominican lost to Point Loma
CU-Irvine lost to Cal Baptist
1. Western Oregon
8. Chico State
10. MSU Moorhead
13. UC San Diego
20. Cal Poly Pomona
25. Seattle Pacific
Others receiving votes: Cal Baptist (11), Azusa Pacific (5), CO Mines (5), Alaska-Anchorage (1).
No clue what to say about any of that, except maybe we’re surprised that Anchorage getting killed by MSUB managed to still get them a vote? We don’t expect SPU to remain in the rankings after their loss to SMU. CWU it was somewhat justified because WOU’s loss comes from playing at CWU, but… We’re not sure MSUB is seen as good enough to keep SPU in the rankings, even if the Falcons kill them on Saturday -and that’s a big if in regard to winning, much less killing.
The GNAC Tourney Race
The state of the GNAC is getting interesting because of course it is. We thought we had our six teams for the conference locked up but of course we don’t because West Region 2015-2016. You cannot get off Mr. West Region’s Wild Ride. Actually, four spots are locked up; it’s the final two that are going to be brutal, particularly for CWU because they were — that close and then lost to SMU.
We know officially that: Alaska-Fairbanks, Alaska-Anchorage, Seattle Pacific, and Western Oregon are all in the tournament. The Alaskas and WOU still play each other one more time, so we don’t know the order yet, just that they’re in.
The final two bids…
Central Washington is 10-6 and has games at SFU & WWU this weekend before playing host to the Alaska schools next weekend.
Western Washington is 8-8 and plays host to CWU & NNU this weekend before going to Seattle Pacific & Saint Martin’s next weekend.
Saint Martin’s is 7-10, just beat SPU, hosts MSUB on Thursday, and then hosts WWU/SFU next weekend.
MSU-Billings is 6-10, is at SMU on Thursday and SPU on Saturday, before playing host to CU-Portland and Western Oregon next weekend. Good luck with that.
There’s nothing we can even say about any of that. The teams playing WOU… Complete whatever voo-doo you’ve got because you’re gonna need all the help you can get?
Finally: GNAC frosh of the year. We’re going to put up a poll on twitter as well, but here’s what we’re thinking in a non-140 character mandate:
Riley Hawken of CU-Portland. Love his game, he gets boards, he makes his teammates better, love his motor. He’s had a number of really good games and player-of-the-week noms and we’re thrilled he’s starting because we were pushing for it long before he got the nod. Totally believe in the kid and are really excited to watch the rest of his GNAC career.
Trey Drechsel of WWU. Came off of injury in January but up until that point there wasn’t a ton of frosh play and so not too concerned that he missed non-conference; it’s not really going to affect the numbers because Riley didn’t really turn on until conference play either. He’s been starting, he’s great, another high motor guy, we definitely think WWU would be substantially worse without him, love his attitude. Great candidate.
Rhett Baerlocher of SMU. Maybe not as notable of numbers as the other two guys, but we were seriously impressed with his play last night and he’s been coming on strong the longer the season goes and he could very well be the key piece in SMU’s push to make the conference tourney. Very good stuff.
Alright. Good talk, blog. We’ll see you tomorrow at 10am for Game Day Previews.
We’ve already had two other discussions post,
so this one is going to be relatively brief just kidding: UAA @ MSUB. Did UAA just burst their own at-large bubble? Could MSUB mathematically make the conference tourney? Rankings. Brian McGill converts.
UAA 71 @ MSUB 90
Yes. That happened. As noted last night: We only ended up watching the final two minutes and we were wholly stunned. From UAA’s twitter we discovered that MSU-B led the entire time. At halftime they were up by roughly 25. They came out on fire, they stayed on fire, they played defense, and then put an exclamation point on it by not falling into a false sense of security. The last point is huge because it seems like an ongoing issue in our conference: One team goes up big, gets complacent, the other team comes back, and the team that originally led either loses or gets out by the skin of their teeth. Constant vigilance.
Seawolf highlights: Suki Wiggs had 27 points and seven rebounds; Corey Hammell had six boards and 13 points; Brian McGill had five assists and continues his FT streak, going 4/4. Off the bench Christian Leckband had seven points, five rebounds, and four fouls.
Yellowjacket highlights: Preston Beverly had 25 points, 13 rebounds, and four assists -absolutely nuts; Kendall Denham had a great game with 14 points, three rebounds, and three assists while shooting 90% including going 4/4 from the line; Marc Matthews had 12 points, six boards, and five assists; Emmanuel Johnson scored 19 points; and Emmanuel Olufemi had 12 points and five boards. Off the bench Jordan Perry scored eight points. Hella complete and balanced performance by the Jackets.
What’s maybe most interesting about the final score is the Seawolves shot 40%. MSUB was just playing such stifling defense that it appears they couldn’t get many shots off, and then the Yellowjackets took advantage of it at the other end of the court. Syncopated is what the score makes us think, although again: We didn’t watch so we’re not sure.
Did UAA just ruin their chance for an at-large bid?
We’re honestly not sure. Potentially, which sucks. But not entirely. What this is coming back to is strength of schedule. Because there’s been so much parity across all three conferences during conference play, we’ve got about 10 teams with really similar resumes, UAA being among them. The good news for the Seawolves is that no one has particularly good SOS and the early season wins/losses teams have against Cal Baptist are going to be negated by question marks because of the fact that the Lancers are collapsing down the stretch.
It’s hard to truly say where Anchorage falls because there are still six games left to play and you can look at the records of any given team and any given opponent, but this year is chaos and so it really doesn’t matter. We raised the argument super early in the season that we wanted to see the Seawolves win off the tundra, and now it seems like all of the wins off the tundra that they have include asterisks. They won at SPU over winter break. They won in double OT at WWU partly because their coach wasn’t given a technical that he 110% deserved; he made it to center court and three players were having to restrain him. That deserves an ejection + probably missing the next game. And if he misses that next game, do the Seawolves pull it out against SFU? Maybe, maybe not. They let SFU hang around a really, really long time. And now you have their most recent loss to MSUB. It wasn’t close. And you could go “Oh well they’ve been on the road for a week,” yes, welcome to the dog days of the season. This’ll come as a shock, but during the NCAA tournament you’re on the road for a week. Crazy stuff.
Win the conference tournament and the bubble doesn’t matter. If the bubble does matter? Not sure. There are approximately 13 teams that deserve consideration for at-large berths, and we think three of them are relatively safe: WOU (best record, benefit of the doubt fully earned), UCSD (great record, good non-conference), and SPU (good record, great non-con).
Can MSUB still make it into the conference tourney/what would have to happen?
In short, yes they can. And that should worry the Vikings. The Yellowjackets are 2.5 games back of WWU, with their remaining schedule looking as follows:
The good news is they have three home games. The bad news is two of them are against really good teams. The good news is they just beat a really good team. The bad news the remaining teams either match them well or come in as a huge favorite. CU-Portland and SMU should be competitive. WOU, UAF, and SPU are going to be hard, although it should be noted that MSUB doesn’t usually have any type of issue with the SPU gym, so a win there is definitely a possibility.
WWU’s schedule looks like this:
Very similar schedules, but MSUB plays mostly at home whereas WWU has a lot of road games. The Vikings are likely going to have a rough ride. Partly because of all the parity, partly because four away games, and partly because it’s hard to win six straight, and MSUB only needs to win one game they “shouldn’t,” to make it really dicey. The only games we see as a guarantee for the Vikings are @CU-Portland & vs. NNU. That’s it. And we could be wrong about those. WOU is going to be incredibly difficult. CWU is going to be unpleasant. SPU is likely to be challenging. SMU could go either way.
Alright, rankings, holy guacamole, they are a doozy. They’re fine; we see the arguments people are making, but they’re still whoa.
1. Western Oregon -we agree with the ranking, even if it makes us nervous. Stay humble Wolves.
6. UCSD -love it. It’s mostly because other teams lost, but we still love it.
9. Chico State -love Chico, still think Cal Poly Pomona is better; Friday night against UCSD will be interesting.
11. MSU Moorhead
14. Cal Poly Pomona -we get it, they have four losses, but we swear that Dominguez Hills is quality this year and while they slept on CSULA, they beat Chico by 13; that ain’t no foulin’ score.
22. Seattle Pacific -fell three spots after losing to the now-#1 WOU in OT. We have no opinion on this one.
Others receiving votes: Azusa Pacific (2), Alaska-Anchorage (1).
Azusa… We don’t know. We really don’t know. We’ve been watching Joey Schreiber play since high school; now he plays for Azusa, therefore Azusa is now ours and therefore we have no opinion because rankings are what they are.
we think deserves more than one vote. Do we think they’d beat Chico State? Maybe. We honestly really don’t know much at all about Chico State other than that their play-by-play guy is amazing and their biggest statements have been losses to Cal Poly Pomona and Seattle Pacific, but part of that is because the two other good teams they’ve played (Sonoma and Humboldt) are rivals, which… Maybe means we should give them more credit because anything can and will happen in a rivalry game? We still think their non-conference schedule was pathetic, which sadly is still relevant because of the chaos that’s gone on in the regular season. As noted a few days ago: The Chico Wildcat schedule enters its in-conference gauntlet now, so we’ll see how they respond. The Pac-West looks like such a mess that it doesn’t seem like a stretch that both the GNAC and the CCAA would get three bids, but whether or not UAA is one of them will really depend on who wins the GNAC tournament; if it’s SPU or WOU the odds of UAA getting an at-large seem high, whereas we’re starting to lean that Chico will be in no matter what simply because no one else played anyone either.
Not listed there, but Augustana received one #1 vote, while Wheeling received four, and WOU received 11. The Augustana thing is interesting because we contemplated making an argument about leaving Augustana as number one even with two losses because there’s so much parity, the number one spot is basically switching between “who lost most recently” but the top are all only really losing to good teams and the outsider there isn’t playing good teams, so… It’s an interesting idea. Glad to see we weren’t the only ones that thought Wheeling looked really good.
The Consensus is: Brian McGill is awesome.
We know he just won player of the week, but probably one of the best parts of a great weekend was how much we got asked about Brian and how excited people were to talk about him. Western Washington fans know basketball, particularly the ones we sit with, and going into the game we were like ‘Brian McGill is super super good and he makes the people around him better,’ and maybe being a little fan-girly, but by the end of the game everyone around us was like “OH MY GOD, HE’S AMAZING.” He’s not flashy, he gets the job done, he does the little things, and is a very humble player even though he’s arguably the #2 guy in the conference. It was fun to listen to our friends go “Okay, I’m not thrilled with what he’s doing to us, but he’s a really good basketball player -if we have to lose and get torched by someone, he’s fine.”
Game respects game. It also helps that when opponents would go down, Brian was always reaching a out a hand to help them up. Sportsmanship rocks; between his game and his attitude, it wasn’t surprising but it was still awesome how much praise we heard. Even after a 2OT loss, we got tons of questions and gushing about him in the middle of the UAF blowout two days later.
So once again, congrats Brian -more people than you know think you’re fantastic.
We were going to talk about Cal Baptist, but this is long enough. We’ll deal with the Lancers either later this week or next Wednesday.