CCAA Men’s Basketball Blog: First D-II West Region Poll-No Surprises

 

NCAA DIVISION II WEST REGION RANKINGS

1 Azusa Pacific                        19-4 19-4
2 California Baptist             19-4 19-3
3 Western Ore.                      18-3 18-3
4 BYU-Hawaii                         18-4 16-4
5 Cal Poly Pomona               15-5 15-5
6 Dixie St.                                  17-6 17-5
7 Chico St.                                 15-6 15-6
8 Point Loma                           18-6 18-6
9 UC San Diego                     13-9 13-9
10 Seattle Pacific                 15-7 13-7

A fellow blogger who follows the Great Northwest Conference writes a blog that can be accessed here

https://gnacmbb.wordpress.com/2015/02/18/west-region-rankings-1/

He has some great insights and comes at the region from a Great Northwest perspective and its always good to get insights on teams we don’t get to see that often…….

 

With the first region poll in the books the reality and the plight of California Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball teams becomes abundantly clear. The Pacific West conference is STACKED.

With only Chico State and Cal Poly Pomona garnering enough votes to be in the Top-8, it’s clear that neither team has clinched a bid to the NCAA Tournament. The specter of the regular season conference champion not making it to the NCAA Tournament is a distinct possibility, making the CCAA Conference Championship Tournament vital for teams that want to punch their ticket.

The first West Region poll is dominated by teams from the Pacific West Conference. Azusa Pacific (1) California Baptist (2) BYU Hawaii (4) Dixie State (6) and Point Loma (8) would all make the tournament if the season ended today. That would be an amazing five teams from one conference. When looking at the resumes of the teams you can not argue with the committee’s reasoning. The Pac-West has dominated inter-league and cross conference play in the West Region. They have earned the respect the West Region committee is giving them.

The power center of men’s Division II West Region basketball used to lie in the Great Northwest Conference. That is no longer the case. There is one clear-cut team that has the resume to get into the tournament and that is the Western Oregon Wolves. They have had a fantastic regular season and sit at number 3 in the first regional poll. Regardless of whether they win their post-season conference tournament I think Western Oregon is a deserving entrant. Seattle-Pacific is on the outside looking in at the moment, but this is team full of veterans that do have post-season experience. Do not be surprised if the Falcons must the mo-jo for a strong final push into their conference tournament. Currently the Falcons sit at number 10 in the region.

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As the voice of the Chico State Wildcats I am most familiar with teams in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA.) Cal Poly Pomona sits at number 5 in the region. They have a very nice body of work. They have a huge early season win against the top team in the region Azusa Pacific. The Broncos beat them 81-78 on November 15th. The Broncos also beat UCSD on the road. A quality win considering the Tritons sit at number 9 in the region. The Broncos also staged a miracle comeback, coupled with a Humboldt State meltdown to beat the Lumberjacks on the road. They have also beaten Cal State Stanislaus twice. Pomona has a strong case for getting in the tournament, but I don’t think you can write their name down in INK on your bracket just yet. They have some work to do, including a huge game in two weeks in Arcata against a surging Humboldt State squad. The Jacks haven’t lost at home in more than two months.

The Chico State Wildcats sit at number 7 in the region. I almost immediately got messages from Chico State’s faithful lamenting the Wildcats’ spot in the region. I believe it’s a fair ranking, here is why.

Chico State has a 15-6 Division II and West Region record. If you look at the teams ranked in the top eight in the region it’s the worst record of the bunch. Chico State loyalists will say, “hey, we are 17-6.” Um, “No, you aren’t.” For post-season purposes the Wildcats are 15-6. Two of their early season wins were against NAIA schools. Those games do not count. Sure, they count in a teams’ overall record but games against Division III and NAIA schools do not count when your post-season resume is considered. It prevents teams from putting a bunch of cupcakes on their schedule and having those wins against inferior programs count for the post-season. So, the Wildcats are really only 15-6.

The Wildcats have some really nice wins. The biggest wins they have is a regular season sweep of Cal Poly Pomona. That is big. I think it’s the primary reason they are ranked in the top eight. They won at Stanislaus. They beat Alaska Anchorage on a neutral floor. They have swept Cal State San Bernardino, dealing the Coyotes their only home loss of the year. Nice resume, but not as good as Pomona at this point, even with the sweep.

Teams that go to the NCAA Tournament can usually sustain one or even two bad losses as long as those losses are balanced with good wins. The Wildcats have a bad loss. Chico State lost at home to Dominican University 67-61 on November 28th. The Penguins are a solid squad, but playing in the tough Pacific West Conference they are only 11-13. So, losing at home to a sub .500 team really hurts. The Wildcats would be helped if Dominican could get that record over .500 by the end of the season. If not, it’s a blemish the Wildcats will have to overcome.

People need to remember that when people say this is a “body of work” issue, they aren’t joking. Games played on November 15th matter just as much as games played in mid-February. Just ask Humboldt State. The Lumberjacks are 11-7 in CCAA play. They have won 11 of their last 14. They are playing great basketball. But, odds are Humboldt State will only make the regional if they run the table in the CCAA Tournament. They have some bad losses when you really crunch the numbers. They lost to San Francisco State who has a record of 9-13. They lost to Sonoma who is 11-11. And, they lost two weeks ago to 6-18 Dominguez Hills. When you add all of those losses up, and you analyze the regional criteria. I don’t think there is any way Humboldt gets in unless they get the automatic qualifier and win the CCAA Tournament in two weeks. All games matter, even in early November.

With two weeks left in the regular season I can’t remember a year where the final three or four spots in the regional rankings are so unsettled. Both UC San Diego sitting and number 9 and Seattle Pacific sitting at number 10 are both very much in the mix. They are hoping Chico State and Point Loma stumble so they could possibly  move up. There is so much on the line over these final few weeks and then we get ready for one of the most tension-filled three days of basketball in recent memory, when teams from the CCAA, GNAC and Pac-West play for that automatic qualifier to try to get into the NCAA Tournament. It’s only February, but it already feels like MARCH MADNESS

 

PHOTOS COURTESY OF CHICO STATE ATHLETICS @CHICOWILDCATS.COM 

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