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Does the Big West ever produce a season that isn’t entertaining with a tight race for first-place? Last year was no different, as UC Santa Barbara and Pacific finished in a tie at the top of the standings, with both teams going 12-4. By virtue of UCSB sweeping Pacific, the Gauchos got the first seed in the conference tournament. After those two, there was a drop off to spots three through five, as Long Beach State, Cal State Fullerton and UC Davis each finished 8-8. In the conference tournament, UCSB defeated Long Beach State in the title game – might we see a rematch for a championship this season? Ohio State defeated UCSB in the first round, but the Gauchos are looking to win a game this season.
- 1. UC Santa Barbara: Look out for this team in the NCAA Tournament. The Gauchos return five starters from last year’s team, including Orlando Johnson and James Nunnally.
- 2. Long Beach State: The 49ers have plenty of talent; they just need to play to their potential. T.J. Robinson is a double-double monster, and Larry Anderson is athletic.
- 3. Pacific: The Tigers are always in the mix for a conference title, and this year will be no different. Sam Willard and Demetrece Young form a solid inside-outside tandem.
- 4. UC Davis: When a team can throw match-up problems Mark Payne and Joe Harden out there, they can’t be counted out. Payne’s health is a big factor.
- 5. Cal Poly: There is plenty of excitement in San Luis Obispo due to the arrival of Amaurys Fermin and the return of three double-figure scorers.
- 6. UC Irvine: If Maxime Chupin is cleared to play, this team could move up. As it stands, Darren Moore and Eric Wise are a formidable inside-outside combo.
- 7. Cal State Fullerton: The Titans will revolve around all-conference candidate Jer’Vaughn Johnson, but need a host of newcomers to contribute.
- 8. Cal State Northridge: Lenny Daniel is the team’s lone returning double-figure scorers, but a return to healthy by Rashaun McLemore could make a difference.
- 9. UC Riverside: The Highlanders finished last in the conference a year ago, and only one player who saw minutes last season returns. This is a rebuilding job.
Player of the Year: Orlando Johnson, G, UC-Santa Barbara
- G- Orlando Johnson, UC-Santa Barbara
- G- Mark Payne, UC-Davis
- F- Eric Wise, UC-Irvine
- F- James Nunnally, UC-Santa Barbara
- F- T.J. Robinson, Long Beach State
- G- Joe Harden, UC-Davis
- G- Demetrece Young, Pacific
- G- Casper Ware, Long Beach State
- F- Sam Willard, Pacific
- F- Lenny Daniel, Cal State Northridge