Introducing Cinderella: UC Davis makes first NCAA Tournament in school history
Conference: Big West
Coach: Jim Les
Record: 22-12 (11-5 Big West)
Ratings and Rankings:
– Kenpom: 219
– RPI: 178
– AP/USA Today: N/A
Seeding: NBC Sports bracketology predicted UC Irvine as the Big West automatic qualifier and slotted the Anteaters as a No. 15 seed. The Aggies will have one of the three worst RPIs heading into the NCAA Tournament, which means they are likely destined for the No. 16 seed, whether that be in the First Four or the first round.
Names you need to know: Brynton Lemar is the team’s leading scorer at 16.0 points per game and shooting 38 percent from three. Newcomer Chima Moneke is averaging 14.5 points and 9.5 rebounds. He was the hero in the Big West semifinals.
Stats you need to know: The Aggies only average 71 points per game, ranking them in the 200s. However, they can cause matchup problems with a lineup that typically features three guards and Moneke at the four.
Big wins, bad losses: Outside of two wins against UC Irvine, the Aggies defeated Santa Clara in the second game of the season and knocked off Utah Valley in a non-conference contest. Those are their only top 200 wins, according to kenpom. A 61-55 loss to CSU Riverside back in January is probably the worst of the dozen for UC Davis.
How’d they get here?: After finishing second in the conference, the Aggies won by 11 over Cal Poly, but found themselves in trouble in the semis against Cal State Fullerton. UC Davis was saved my Moneke’s heroics. After holding the Anteaters to 16 first-half points, the Aggies found themselves trailing with minutes remaining in regulation. A Brynton Lemar layup gave UC Davis the lead for good with 2:13 left. UC Irvine went almost three minutes without a field goal before Luke Nelson snapped the drought with a three, cutting the UC Davis lead to 48-47. Lemar sunk two free throws and UC Irvine failed to get a shot off.
Outlook: UC Davis isn’t the scariest offense you’ll see in the NCAA Tournament, and you have to wonder how it’s defense will fare against stiffer competition. If the Aggies are in fact seeded No. 16, don’t expect them to make history next week.
How do I know you?: Likely haven’t. UC Davis won the Big West regular season title in 2015, but were upset by Hawaii in the conference semis. The Aggies settled for an NIT appearance.