The Chico State men’s and women’s basketball teams both learned today that they are very much in the mix to get into the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.
With the release of today’s regional rankings the men (ranked 6th) and women (ranked 5th) both know if they hold serve and take care of business they will be dancing at a yet to be determined site for March Madness.
The top eight teams in the West Region will garner invites to the Division-II version of March Madness.
After getting off to a slow start this year the Chico State women have found their stride winning 10-of-12 since mid-January. How have they done it ? Defense. The Wildcats were allowing opponents to shoot an other-worldly 40 percent from three-point range several games into their conference season. The Wildcats now holding opponents to 34 percent shooting from beyond-the-arc. The perimeter defense has improved vastly. The other big difference is the women are now winning close games. During this 12-game stretch the Wildcats have won 4 games by 3 points or less. The senior leadership has proven to be invaluable as the Cats are now making plays down the stretch that they weren’t making in November and December. Chico will be a dangerous team in March when its tourney time.
NCAA WOMEN’S WEST REGION D-II RANKINGS
1) Montana State-Billings
2) Simon Fraser
3) Cal Poly Pomona
5) Chico State
6) Dominguez Hills
7) Cal State Los Angeles
8) UC San Diego
9) Western Washington
10) Academy of Art
The Chico State men have been a picture of consistency all year-long. The Wildcats have been one of the best defensive teams in country while averaging 76 points a game in the always tough CCAA. The team’s strength is their defense. Much of their offensive prowess can be attributed to their ability to defend. Chico will get out and run after holding opponents to a one-and-done offensive sequence.
The Wildcats discipline is over-looked by many but I believe it is their greatest strength. They are a well-oiled machine that rarely beats themselves. They sit at 17-5 on the year, with their five losses by a combined 11 points. They have four players who average double-figures and the Cats’ can beat you in the paint and from the perimeter. They take care of the ball only turning it over 11 times a game. Chico has had some huge wins this year knocking off perennial west region powers Seattle-Pacific and Cal State San Bernardino.
Chico is poised to make their third straight NCAA Tournament appearance for the first time in more than 20 years.
NCAA MEN’S WEST REGION D-II RANKINGS
1) Cal State San Bernardino
2) Cal Baptist
3) Cal Poly Pomona
4) Seattle Pacific
5) Dixie State
6) Chico State
7) Western Washington
10) Cal State Stanislaus
PHOTOS COURTESY OF ChicoWildcats.com