Featured Video from Scott Reichel
It’s the semifinals of the Big West Tournament here as the Cal State Fullerton Titans take on the UCSB Gauchos. Both teams were lucky to escape with narrow victories in their opening round games. Fullerton squeaked by UC Davis, while UCSB edged out Cal State Northridge in the closing seconds. The game will be nationally televised on ESPNU with a late tipoff. It should be a good one.
I’ve been pretty high on this Fullerton team this year. They’re one of my favorite teams in the conference, and I picked them to cover in their opening round game, which they did. They made the NCAA Tournament last year as the Big West’s representative, and are now looking to make it back.
Even though they returned everyone from last year’s team, they’ve mostly struggled this year. They enter this one at just 15-16 overall, which is well below initial projections for this season. It appears the fact that they won the conference tournament last year has made them a bit complacent, and they don’t have the same burning desire to win it anymore. But they still have a ton of talent and can’t be taken lightly. If they were playing almost anybody else in the conference I might be inclined to pick them, but they’re playing a UCSB team that is starting to come into their own.
They also don’t matchup well against the Gauchos. The last time they played UCSB, toward the end of the regular season, they lost by 15 points in a game that was never particularly close. Their defense was non-existent, and they allowed UCSB to shoot 50% from the field. Fullerton’s offense is still their main concern though, and it didn’t look very good against Davis. Even though they escaped with a win, they turned the ball over 17 times and shot just 4/13 from deep. If they have anywhere near that amount of turnovers here, they’re going to get blown out again.
I’m always happy when I get to write up a UCSB game. I’ve been picking them all year, and they remain one of my favorite low-major sleeper teams. Last year’s team was already very good, and then they added an unprecedented amount of transfer talent.
If any team is going to topple UC Irvine in this tournament, it’s going to be UCSB. With so many new pieces on the team, it naturally took them a while to get all their chemistry figured out. Now that they’re more familiar with each other, they’re peaking at exactly the right time. Junior guard Max Heidegger, one of the best players in the conference last season, missed a lot of this year with injuries. When he returned he wasn’t quite himself, but he’s finally starting to round into form.
— Barstool UCSB (@BarstoolGauchos) March 8, 2019
UCSB got here by defeating a very underrated Cal State Northridge team in the first round. While the final score was extremely close, it was clear to anyone watching that the Gauchos were the far superior team. The Gauchos played very tight defense, and shot 7/14 from deep. They’re the most talented team in the conference with a very deep roster, and could be dangerous if they can sneak into March Madness. Their offense is really starting to pick up, and should be able to score at will against this leaky Fullerton defense.
- 17-8 ATS in their last 25 games following a ATS loss
- 5-2 ATS in their last 7 neutral site games
- 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games against Fullerton
- 2-9-1 ATS in their last 12 Friday games
- 2-9 ATS in their last 11 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600
- 2-11 ATS in their last 13 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record
- 1-4-1 ATS in their last 6 games overall
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I love the Gauchos here. They’re peaking at exactly the right time, and matchup very well against Fullerton. Fullerton has been terrible against good teams this season, and is just 2-11 against the spread in their last 13 games vs. teams with a winning straight up record.
Full-Game Total Pick
I also like the under a lot here. The under is 5-1 the last six times these teams have played, and their games usually end up being defensive struggles. The intensity will be kicked up a notch here given the stakes, and this will end up being very low scoring.