Featured in this article:
  • Cal Irvine is fourth in regular-season standings, but the favorite to win.
  • UC Irvine is one of the nation’s top defensive teams in allowing just 59.5 ppg and No. 1 nationally in three-point defense
  • Cal State Fullerton is the No. 2 seed and +700 to win the tournament

4 Minute Read

UC Irvine guard Spencer Rivers, left, lays up a shot against Cal State Fullerton forward Johnny Wang, right, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game for the Big West men's tournament championship in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, March 16, 2019. UC Irvine won 92-64. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

The Big West Tournament appears wide open.

Unless you live in California or Hawaii, you might not care about the upcoming Big West Tournament because that league has 10 schools from the Golden State and then the University of Hawaii. The tournament tips off Tuesday night from Henderson, Nevada, and Cal Irvine is the favorite even though it only finished fourth in the regular-season standings.

While the Big West has 11 schools, UC San Diego is not eligible for the conference tournament as it transitions to Division I basketball. In fact, none of UC San Diego’s regular-season conference games officially counted, which is unusual even for transitioning teams.

UC Santa Barbara is the defending tournament champion.

One-Bid League To Big Dance

Let’s be clear here: Only the Big West Tournament champion will be headed to the NCAA Tournament. There is zero chance of any school in the league getting an at-large bid.

Long Beach State won the regular-season title with a 12-3 mark in Big West play and is +475 to win the tournament for the first time since 2012. Jadon Jones sank two free throws in the final second of overtime Saturday to beat UC Riverside 73-72 and secure the outright league championship. The Beach will face facing the winner of No. 8 Cal State Northridge-No. 9 Cal State Bakersfield on Thursday.

Cal State Fullerton is the No. 2 seed and +700 to win the tournament. Dedrique Taylor became the first coach in program history to win 10-plus conference games in four different seasons. The Titans’ EJ Anosike leads the conference in scoring at 16.3 ppg.

UC Irvine (+255) was fourth in the regular season yet as noted is the tournament betting favorite. Last year, it lost 79-63 in the tournament title game to UC Santa Barbara. UC Irvine is one of the nation’s top defensive teams in allowing just 59.5 ppg and No. 1 nationally in three-point defense.

UC Santa Barbara (+350) will face UC Irvine on Wednesday. No team has repeated in this event since the Gauchos did in 2011. UCSB has one of the Big West’s top freshmen in Ajay Mitchell, who averages 11.8 points but has had two 30-point games, setting the school freshman single-game record twice.

Cal Riverside (+600) enters the postseason on an offensive roll, shooting at least 50 percent in six straight games. The Highlanders’ only two losses in that stretch were in OT.

Probably the only other school that can win this event is Hawaii (+500). The Rainbow Warriors suffered a big loss on Feb. 19, however, when sophomore guard Noel Coleman suffered an orbital fracture that ended his season. Prior to the injury Coleman led the team in scoring (14.8 ppg), three-point shooting (44.1 percent), and free-throw shooting (81.3 percent). Hawaii’s lone Big West Tournament title was in 2016.

The rest of the field: UC Davis (+1400), CS Bakersfield (+5000), Cal Poly (+15000), and CS Northridge (+25000).


  • Game 1: No. 9 CSU Bakersfield vs. No. 8 CSUN, 9:00 p.m. ET
  • Game 2: No. 10 Cal Poly vs. No. 7 UC Davis, 11:30 p.m. ET


  • Game 3: Winner of Game 1 vs. No. 1 Long Beach State, 3:00 p.m. ET
  • Game 4: No. 5 UC Santa Barbara vs. No. 4 UC Irvine, 5:30 p.m. ET
  • Game 5: Winner of Game 2 vs. No. 2 Cal State Fullerton, 9:00 p.m. ET
  • Game 6: No. 6 UC Riverside vs. No. 3 Hawaii, 11:30 p.m. ET


  • Game 7: Winner of Game 3 vs. Winner of Game 4, 9:00 p.m. ET
  • Game 8: Winner of Game 4 vs. Winner of Game 5, 11:30 p.m. ET


  • Game 9: Winner of Game 7 vs. Winner of Game 8, 11:30 p.m. ET

James Guill

James Guill is a former professional poker player who writes fro GambleOnline.co about poker, sports, casinos, gaming legislation and the online gambling industry in general. His past experience includes working with IveyPoker, PokerNews, PokerJunkie, Bwin, and the Ongame Network. From 2006-2009 he participated in multiple tournaments including the 37th and 38th World Series of Poker (WSOP). James lives in Virgina and he has a side business where he picks and sells vintage and antique items.

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