When Bakari Grant answered Greg Denham’s 38-yard prayer with no time remaining to beat Northern Colorado, it was unbelievable.
When the women’s water polo team knocked off Loyola Marymount in 2006 to end the Lions‘ five-year stranglehold on the Western Water Polo Association and advance to the NCAA Tournament, it was epic.
When the football and men’s basketball teams upended Stanford in 2005, the victories became legend.
These wins featured remarkable outcomes – victories, in some cases, that probably weren’t supposed to happen.
But when the UC Davis men’s soccer team hosts UC Santa Barbara on Saturday, it’ll be something else entirely.
An Aggie victory won’t define this showdown between archrivals – the magnitude of the game itself already has.
The fact of the matter is that win, loss or tie, this one’s going down in record books.
With a win over UCSB: UC Davis controls its own destiny. A win would give the Aggies 18 points, meaning they’d leapfrog the Gauchos – potentially giving them a share of the Big West Conference’s regular season title.
It would also give UC Davis a home game in the first round of the conference tournament.
“That’s the best scenario,” head coach Dwayne Shaffer said. “We hope to put our team in a position to do something special.… To be able to play our final regular season game on our field with a chance to not only gain a conference bid but also possibly a NCAA Tournament bid with a win – that’s tremendous.“
With a tie: Basically, all hell starts breaking loose. A tie would give UC Davis 16 points, tying them with UC Irvine and Cal State Northridge – who conveniently square off on Saturday to fight for their playoff lives. Go figure.
A UC Irvine win and a UC Davis tie means the Aggies would clinch the fourth and final slot in the conference tournament.
A UC Irvine-Cal State Northridge tie would also award the Aggies the No. 4 seed, as UC Davis owns a head-to-head tiebreaker with Cal State Northridge.
With a loss: All hell officially breaks loose. A Cal State Northridge win or tie paired with a UC Davis loss would knock the Aggies – who’ve basically been a top-10 team in the nation since early October – out of their own conference tournament.
The Aggies could still advance to the Big West Tournament with a loss, but can only do so with a UC Irvine win over Cal State Northridge.
Long story short, UC Davis needs to do whatever Cal State Northridge does. The two teams have 15 points apiece, and the Aggies hold the tiebreaker. It’s that simple.
“The bottom line is we control our own destiny,” Shaffer said. “If we win and Northridge wins, then we’re in, and Irvine would be the odd team out.“
So in review, UC Davis could finish with anything from a share of first place – with a first-round home game – to fifth place, leaving them on the outside of the Big West Tournament looking in.
Still, even if the Aggies don’t qualify for the conference tournament, Shaffer believes his team’s resume is strong enough to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
“The NCAA Tournament has nothing to do with the conference tournament,” he said. “The conference tournament just determines our conference champion.
“We still have wins over Cal Poly, Santa Barbara, Michigan State – our record against teams being considered for the NCAA Tournament is really good. That’s ultimately what they’re going to look at.“
ADAM LOBERSTEIN is letting you know if you want to get a head start on Camp Beat UCSB, you can meet him today at 6 p.m. at Schaal Aquatics Center to watch the UC Davis men’s water polo team square off against UC San Diego. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.