Chico State Men’s path to NCAA Tournament is clearer

The woulda coulda and shoulda’s are probably all out of the Chico State men’s basketball team’s psyches right now, but it is so obvious their road to the NCAA Tournament would have been made so much easier if they didn’t stink it up on Tuesday night against Cal State Los Angeles.   The Chico State trek to the tourney is less hazy today. And now, after two days of conference tournaments the road to the  tournament has clarified.

I believe there are five teams that have, in all probability, punched their tickets to March Madness. Cal Baptist and Azusa Pacific will be playing for the Pac-West Conference Tournament Championship. Both teams have had strong seasons and will be dancing next week, regardless of who wins tomorrow’s (Saturday’s) title tilt.

Western Oregon and Alaska will be playing in the Great Northwest Championship game. The Wolves squeaked by Seattle Pacific this afternoon while Alaska survived in a thriller over Western Washington. Western Oregon will not only get into the tournament regardless of tomorrow’s outcome, but they will also host the tournament in Monmouth next week. Alaska may have already punched their ticket with their GNAC opening round win, but a win would ensure their spot in the regional. Only the committee can determine whether Alaska’s win over Western Washington is enough to lift them past Dixie State in the regional rankings and get them into the top eight.

The CCAA Tournament will have UC San Diego taking on Humboldt State in the tournament final. The Tritons out-distanced Pomona today while Humboldt easily handled Cal State Los Angeles.

With tournament results so far I see Cal Baptist, Azusa Pacific, UCSD, Western Oregon and Seattle Pacific as teams already in the tourney. That leaves three spots open and several teams vying for them.

Humboldt only gets into the NCAA’s with a win over UC San Diego. But, if they do, they could throw chaos into the selection process. If Alaska wins they vault into the top eight, a place they may already sit after today’s win. The Nanooks certainly can’t take the chance that is why a win is imperative.

Now we move to the Chico State dilemma. On the surface they look like a team that will be in the tournament. I have never seen a team drop from number two to OUT of the NCAA Tournament after a bad loss. But, if both Humboldt and Alaska win their games that would guarantee both of those teams an NCAA berth and only one spot would be left to fill. That spot would either go to Chico State or Cal Poly Pomona. Here is where it gets tricky for the Wildcats. Pomona swept the season series from Chico. And, while Chico’s resume when crunching the strict criteria was certainly better than Pomona’s a week ago, that may not the case right now. Chico lost twice in four days to a team in Cal State Los Angeles that was 9-17. Those losses are crushing. Not only does it hurt their Performance Indicator but it also damages their RPI. If it’s close between Chico and Pomona, does the committee still choose Chico even though they lost twice to the Broncos ??

The Wildcats get in if either Alaska or Humboldt lose, but if they both win…….it is nervous time. Chico should be in. Never have a I seen a team 20-6 against Division II opponents NOT get in. It’s pretty obvious, if you are a Chico State basketball fan you are pulling for UC San Diego and Western Oregon. If Humboldt and Alaska both pull upsets………bust out those rosary beads.


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