Teams: UC Davis vs Cal State Northridge; vs. Cal State Fullerton
Records: Aggies, 12-16 (7-7); Matadors, 10-19 (5-9); Titans, 15-12 (8-6)
When: Thursday at 7 p.m.; Saturday at 7 p.m.
Where: The Matadome – Northridge, Calif.; Titan Gym – Fullerton, Calif.
Who to watch: Over the past month, the Aggies have gained a voracious rebounder – and he’s a guard.
Todd Lowenthal has been cleaning the glass with regularity ever since a 13-rebound performance against Seattle on Feb. 16.
After averaging 3.3 rebounds per game in 13 contests prior to the matchup against the Redhawks, Lowenthal has grabbed 13, nine, three and nine rebounds in his last four games for an average of 8.5 over the span.
Lowenthal’s success in getting to loose balls has been part of an overall emphasis on team rebounding by coach Gary Stewart.
“Now we’re getting guards to come back and close the boards,” he said.
The Aggies have had a positive rebounding margin in three of their past four games.
Did you know? The Aggies are 1-5 on the road in conference play this year. Both their remaining games are conference road games.
Preview: As March Madness approaches, dozens of teams across the nation dream of being one of the 64 teams invited to the Big Dance.
If the Aggies want to get their chance at the NCAA tournament, they’ll have to first win the Big West Tournament.
Doing that will be much easier if they can win one or both of these final two games of the regular season.
Sunday’s win against UC Riverside allowed UC Davis to climb to fourth place in the Big West conference, just behind Cal State Fullerton (8-6). Seeding in the tournament is important because it determines the number of games a team has to play.
The first and second seeds receive a bye for the first two rounds of the tournament. The third and fourth seed receive a bye on the first day of the event. Because they own the tiebreaker, the Aggies have a chance to finish as high as the third seed if they can finish with the same, or better, record than the Titans. If the Aggies cannot secure the third or fourth seed, they’ll have to win four games in four days to get to the NCAA tournament.
To get the bye, the Aggies need to overcome two opponents who will not go down easy in Cal State Northridge and Cal State Fullerton.
The Matadors have a 5-9 record in-conference, but that number is deceiving. The Matadors are 3-8 this season in games decided by five points or less and are 0-4 in games decided by a single point.
As last year’s Big West champions, the Matadors will be playing hard against the Aggies; they are one of three teams (along with UC Riverside and UC Irvine) trying to avoid a ninth place finish in conference play. The worst team in the conference is not invited to the Big West tournament.
The Titans, after losing to the Aggies 67-63 at the Pavilion earlier this year, have posted a 10-5 record and are 8-3 on their home floor.
– Richard Procter