And our bracket. In D2 it’s funny -predicting the bracket is the real game to win; forget the games, the games you’re invested in because you want your team to win. Right now we’ve been procrastinating on posting a bracket all day because the idea of being wrong kills us, even though… It’s D2 basketball. Why does being right in predicting a bracket matter? Yeah, yeah, yeah, pale blue dot, giant universe among some insane multiverse, are we a computer sim? Nothing really matters, blah blah blah, insert existential crisis here.
Instead, let’s talk about the GNAC championship game:
#4 WOU 69 @ #1 WWU 71
First and foremost: We were wrong. Taylor Stafford is the real deal, especially when you watch him in person. Now, how well that’ll translate to anything else, we have no idea. But for D2 basketball, dude is legit. The game itself was frustrating, exactly as WOU intended. WOU as these games have depicted epitomizes the defensive grind it out games that are amazing to watch in person and at the time they’re being played, but that seem useless to re-watch because there are too many variables and “how do they get this stuff to even work?” because some of it is dumb luck and some of it is incredibly calculated. Big props to WOU for almost taking down what is a very good WWU team.
How good is this WWU team? Naturally we’re not sure. This entire year has felt like an episode of the Twilight Zone. The numbers they put up are mediocre, which speaks to WOU, but also doesn’t speak well of WOU, because WOU’s entire game is treading water. There’s a joke about the BYU-Hawaii admissions decision comes from throwing all of the applications in the air and picking the ones that land in particular places -that is the WWU vs. WOU game. Even in hindsight, now that we know who won (congrats Viks) we still don’t know who we’d pick to win because on paper WWU should win about 8/10 times, but paper isn’t reality.
Wolf highlights: Tanner Omlid went 8-10 from the line and had six boards; Ali played well and ended up with 16 points; and off the bench Demetrius Trammell lost his mind in the best way possible, scoring 33 points and being 6-6 from the line.
Viking highlights: Taylor Stafford had 33 points; Blake Fernandez had five boards; Daulton Hommes had 10 points and seven boards; and off the bench Deandre Dickson had 10 points and seven boards.
Our favorite part of the game was watching WWU’s Brad Wallace -he didn’t put up particularly interesting numbers, but the dude is a mule. He’s short, he’s sturdy, he’s stubborn, and we’re pretty annoyed he’s a senior because we’d rather keep him for another year. He really just did not give one single crap and for the 22 minutes he was in, he was basically like ‘I’M GOING TO RUN YOU OVER!!!!!!!!’ and then did it. One of those players that you can’t exactly figure out what they do, but they make life easier/more difficult, depending if they’re on your team or the opposing team. Super awesome. We had a blast watching, so thanks Brad!
Now, let’s get into D2 bracketology. At this point, the bracket is set; it just hasn’t been announced yet. We’ve been contemplating our bracket all weekend and still don’t feel confident, but whatever. This seeding is an approximation, although we have no expectation that it’ll be reality:
UCSD -not because they’re necessarily the best team in the Region overall, but because they’ve succeeded in jumping through the hoops most recently and do deserve to host. They beat the opponent with the best record in their conference Championship game and did so convincingly, which says that they’re hot right now and that’s important. Slightly worse record than HPU, but have played what we believe to be a harder schedule.
Hawaii Pacific -We have nothing against Point Loma (we loved them last year because they always schedule so well, and now they have our former coach, so what’s not to love?) but Point Loma had a bad record this year and only squeaked into the tournament by virtue of the Pac-West saying that CU-Irvine wasn’t eligible, just incase they won the tournament. That doesn’t scream “we’re so awesome,” about HPU -especially because the Sea Lions remained in the game for a long time. HPU didn’t break it open until there were about eight minutes left.
San Francisco State -We think losing to UCSD is more respectable than barely squeaking by a depleted WOU team that had played a 3OT game the night before, and only got that far because the opposing team’s (and the conference’s) best rebounder wasn’t playing.
Western Washington -This is too low and had they blown out WOU, we might suggest they host. They’re the GNAC regular season and tournament champions. Great team, good players, pleased with them, but until they make it to the Final Four we personally won’t be convinced. There was so much carnage in the GNAC this year and they still left it up to chance until about a week left, losing games in particular to MSUB (apathy) and at Anchorage. We’ll excuse @ Fairbanks because the Viks always lose at Fairbanks; they did last time they won a title too.
Cal Baptist -we love their strength of schedule in non-con, they’re a good team, their losses come via Dixie, HPU, and PLNU in the tournament (hi, try not playing apathetically) and they have a win over UCSD in non-con, but we’re not really convinced of that; so does WWU and while both CBU and WWU are good teams, there was clearly something up in December with the Tritons.
Chico State -Good non-con, good in conference, had a string of losses mid-season which we assume saw a player injured, but came back from it strong. Only losses are to tournament-bound teams, with the exception of Cal Poly Pomona, and that was a close loss, plus CPP notoriously has a good program. Probably caught the rebuilding on a good night.
Sonoma State -They have two head scratching losses (Dominguez Hills and Cal Poly Pomona) but otherwise their in-conference losses from from SFSU. They have wins over Chico State and UC San Diego, their non-con wasn’t atrocious, and if you’re looking for a trendy upset pick, you should go with the Seawolves because of that info.
Dixie State -This is actually just “who can we rule out?” Dixie scheduled themselves well in non-con, but didn’t really do anything impressive, including losing to a CWU team that didn’t even make the conference tourney. They lost in conference to the teams above and more, they lack a signature win, but we like what the other teams available bring to the table even less, so we’re going with Dixie.
Burst bubbles: UAA. Had UAA made it to the Championship game of the GNAC tourney, we would take them over Dixie State in a heartbeat. We have no idea why Corey Hammell didn’t see more minutes, but whatever the reason, we don’t trust them to have him going into the NCAA Tourney and that’s the difference in whether or not we think these Seawolves could make a run. If the committee has more info than we do and know that Corey is going to play -by all means, Alaska-Anchorage is a better option than Dixie, they should be in it. But if UAA doesn’t have him, it’s a waste of a spot in our opinion.
There’s a ton of post season blog stuff and catching up on player of the week and updating the chart and all kinds of stuff that’ll go on intermittently this month as we watch WWU, hopefully make a deep run, in the NCAA tourney. More stuff is coming -this is far from the end, there’s tons to talk about in such a weird year.
Selection show starts in five minutes……… Update: it started in 25 minutes; the GNAC website was wrong. Starts at 8pm best coast time.
#4 Western Oregon vs. #1 Western Washington…
Looks like it’ll tip right around 7:35. We’ll also be paying close attention to the CCAA championship game, which features SFSU and UCSD. We have a situation on our hands that means all of a sudden WWU is back in the discussion of hosting the Regional, which means… Rock meet hard place.
If WWU wins and UCSD loses, there’s no reason not to send the Regional to Whatcom. If WWU wins and UCSD wins, then there’s an interesting discussion to be had. Looking at UCSD’s schedule, they’ve lost three conference games: San Marcos, Chico State, and Sonoma. Chico State is in the tourney, as far as we’re concerned. So is SFSU, regardless as to whether or not they beat UCSD tonight. That implies that UCSD has greater strength of schedule than the Vikings, and that would be true.
The GNAC has been a mess this year, with the sloppy games never seemingly ending. And it was all just stupid sloppy and a lack of commitment to fundamentals by all involved -ick. If Western Washington wins this game, the GNAC should be a one bid league. WWU has conference losses to MSUB, UAF, and UAA. They have wins against everyone else. And yet UCSD has wins against Regional bound teams. While WWU absolutely killed the Tritons in non-con, that was a long time ago.
It’s all moot if WWU loses the championship game -in that case, have fun in San Diego y’all. The good news with that is it means two GNAC teams will be going. Yeah, WWU can make their own schedule look weaker by winning. Go figure.
So, to summarize:
WWU wins, UCSD loses, WWU should host.
WWU wins, UCSD wins, it’ll be a discussion that arguably should favor UCSD.
WWU loses, UCSD wins, we’ll feel comfortable sending the regional to San Diego.
WWU loses, UCSD loses, we’re going to veer on the side that UCSD should host because UCSD beat another Regional-bound team to win, whereas WWU didn’t.
Now let’s preview the WWU vs. WOU game:
Western Washington is the conference regular season champion. They’re a great rebounding team -everyone on that team rebounds. They out-rebounded their opponent 39-26 last night. Um, yeah. That being said: their defense lacks at times; that team that they massively out-rebounded was in it until the very end. They have a lot of very good players, and Taylor Stafford tends to get the glory as their best player, and while he is, there are a lot of other people on this team that do a lot of good things that make what Taylor does possible.
Western Oregon played a 3OT game last night against a UAA team that was missing their key senior post presence in Corey Hammell. Western Oregon’s best player is a guy by the name of Tanner Omlid -notable for getting at least one triple double, keeping his turnovers low, and motivating his teammates whether he’s on the court or on the bench. Tanner Omlid is the best player in the game, period. We’re excited we get to keep him for another year.
That being said: having the best player doesn’t mean you win.
WOU had an impressive number of players last night that were able to be counted on to go in, give the starters a breather, and not get behind, with their best bench player being Demetrius Trammell. He is distinctively their 6th man, so we don’t really consider him a part of their bench. If WOU has to use the bench to tread water, that’s going to be difficult against this Vikings team because the Vikings are approximately nine guys deep, even with a starter out due to injury.
WOU has the most talented player. WWU is deeper. If the Vikings allow Tanner Omlid (and to a degree Demetrius Trammell) to put the rest of the team on their back, the Wolves have a very good shot at winning. If they can eliminate most of the production of those guys, they should be fine.
We honestly don’t have a prediction because the conference has been such a mess, we know both of these teams so well, we know what both are capable of at their best, we know what both are like when they’re playing uninspiredly, and there’s just no telling which two teams out of those four options are going to actually show up tonight.
Good luck to all -we believe in y’all, play hard, be strong, be safe, 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.
It’s a day late, but… We were planning and plotting things *strokes beard.* First though, let’s talk about the disaster that was the latest Northwest Nazarene game.
Northwest Nazarene 50 @ San Francisco State 81
And yes: It was that bad. It was that bad throughout the whole game. The number of sarcastic jokes we made was higher than the number of shots NNU made, not that it took much. A disaster to the Nth degree. See, this is what happens when you do things like not lose to Dominican -we start actually critiquing your play and treating you like you should be playing somewhat adequately. And yes: The win against Dominican has been down-graded to simply a non-loss, rather than a win, because the Crusaders didn’t win: the Penguins beat themselves because why would they wake up to play a team like NN-who?
Highlights: Bouna played -40- minutes!! And had 10 points. Off the bench Joel Devastey had 11 points; and Marko Lepovic had nine points. The rest of the guys made too many stupid mistakes (turnovers and terrible shooting percentages) to count.
Basically what this game taught is if you feel the need to quadruple team Bouna, you’ll be just fine because no one else can do anything anyway. You broke our hearts NNU, how dare you.
In better news… An unexpected Blog Blitz is coming!! Because this non-conference was such a complete wash, here are some of the in-depth discussions we have planned for Christmas week:
- The West vs. the West
- The West vs. the Rest
- Discussing the Top 25, post non-conference. Theoretically a new one will come out this week.
- The Transitive Property of D2 Basketball.
- Christmas Shenanigans!
- GNAC K-W-L, non-conference edition.
- Non-Conference POW acknowledgements -who we’re excited about, what we want to see more of, etc.
And then we’ll be back to the normal schedule of discussions, game previews, etc.
Finally: We will be acknowledging Christmas. Christmas is an American holiday. Christians co-opted the trees from pagans, Christ from the Ancient Egyptians, and Santa Claus from the Turks. There is nothing sacred about Christmas unless you think of it as a melting pot holiday and a reminder that the USA has been and should continue to be made strong and great because of diversity, not in spite of it.
Northwest Nazarene @ San Francisco State @ 5pm PST
What is there to really say about this game? That we hope Bouna continues his hot streak? That he probably will continue his hot streak (shout out to all of his friends/family in Norway that have been visiting the blog lately -vi elsker deg!) and we’re excited to watch? San Francisco State is an interesting one -on their list of accomplishments this season is a near-loss to a middle-of-the-pack NAIA team, and then four wins against Pac-West teams (Academy of Art x2, Holy Names, & Dixie State) and then three losses to conference opponents in Humboldt State, Chico State, and Stanislas.
A reminder: NNU’s schedule consists of wins against Dominican and CSULA, and then losses to UAA, UAF, and CSULA. They also lost to NAIA College of Idaho, but C of I is at least first in what’s typically a really strong NAIA conference.
What’s going to happen? Who knows. NNU could win. NNU could lose. It could be close. It could be a blowout. We’re gonna find out together tonight between the hours of 5 and 7pm.
Good luck Crusaders!