Big West Conference (conference rank: 29th)
All games at Anaheim, California.
kPOY: Chima Moneke, UC Davis.
Regular season champ: UC Irvine (preseason #120 / 2nd Big West, current #139)
Overachiever: UC Davis (preseason #245, current #224)
Underachiever: UC Santa Barbara (preseason #156, current #333)
I’m not sure if a conference has ever face-planted as badly as the Big West did this season. In 2015 and 2016 the league ranked 13th overall and produced some decent talent. This season, the league ranked 29th with no change in membership. The previous low for the conference over the last 16 seasons was 21st in 2012.
Only one of the nine teams, UC Irvine, improved on its preseason rating and just barely at that. UC Irvine was at least in the ballpark. Cal State Fullerton was a mild disappointment, falling from the #244 to #271. And the other six teams were disasters. That group of six was ranked no lower than #240 in the preseason, and as a group finished between #236 and #333.
I’m all for preserving the sanctity of automatic bids for the small-budget leagues, but you know Big West, you’re going to have to do better next season. The league has only one Tier B win in non-conference play and that was UC Irvine’s road win at Santa Clara. (Edit: UC Davis also won at Santa Clara for a second Tier B win.) UC Irvine really must win the Big West tournament to salvage some of the league’s dignity. It’s possible the Anteaters could give a one-seed a little trouble in the first round.
Semis Final Champ 1 UC Irvine 83.6 64.4 46.3 2 UC Davis 67.5 39.9 16.7 4 Long Beach St. 56.3 27.2 12.0 3 Cal St. Fullerton 51.6 22.4 7.5 5 Hawaii 43.7 18.3 6.9 6 Cal St. Northridge 48.4 15.4 5.8 7 Cal Poly 32.5 7.2 2.9 8 UC Riverside 16.4 5.2 2.0