What a year we’ve had thus far in collegiate sports, with teams about halfway done through non-conference play, three #1 ranked teams have fallen to sides they were projected to take care of, with ease. The Big West is still looking for that signature victory, odds of which aren’t likely, but the sides are still putting in full effort.
1] UC Riverside Highlanders (6-2)
Riverside started the year out with a bang, taking down Nebraska on the road, and have won four in a row, boasting the best record in the conference thus far. Comes as a surprise as Big West fans had picked the Highlanders to finish 7th in the conference.Led by Callum McRae’s 12 points and 9 rebounds per night, on over 60% shooting from the field, Riverside could continue surprising folks. Oh, and Dikymbe Martin has only appeared in four games with minimal minutes.
Next Five: @ Cal Baptist, vs Cal Lutheran, @ Washington State, vs Northern Arizona, @ San Jose State
2] UC Irvine Anteaters (5-4)
Expected to be one of the top teams in the conference, the Anteaters bounced back from a three-game skid, which included a one point loss against 5-1 Texas Christian University and a date in Colorado. They bounced back with style, defeating the Ragin’ Cajuns of Louisiana-Lafayette by 25-points and Eastern Michigan by 19,will look to keep that momentum going with winnable games coming up as they gear up for conference play.
Next Five: vs Cal Baptist, vs Pacific Union, vs Kent State, @ Illinois-Chicago, @ Pacific
3] Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (6-2)
Coach Eric Ganot has things going good in the islands, as the Rainbow Warriors have run off four of the last five, with the lone loss coming to a solid Fighting Illini squad. Hawaii’s other loss? By six to a South Dakota side that boasts a 6-2 mark at this point. It will be interesting to see how Hawaii does away from home, they’ve played five of six in the confines of the Stan Sheriff Arena.
Next Five: @ Oregon, vs Samford, vs UTEP. vs Maine, @ Cal-State Fullerton
4] UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (4-3)
Picked to be the top team in the conference as per the fans in the group, the Gauchos will look to prove them right after winning the last two by convincing margins after a three-game skid, which featured two Pac 12 sides and a one point defeat to Rice sandwiched in between. All three games, were away from home. Amadou Sow is doing work, averaging just under 17 a night, and the Gauchos will need every bit they can get as four of the next five will be away from home.
Next Five: @ Cal-Bakersfield, @ Texas-Arlington, @ Southern Utah, @ Idaho State, vs Southern
5] Long Beach State “The Beach” (3-6)
Having a difficult schedule has been a staple of The Beach for the past few years, and Dan Monson’s side isn’t doing anything different during this season. Having already played three Pac-12 sides, The Beach still has trips to Florida and USC remaining on the slate.
Next Five: vs Pacific, @ USC, vs Southern Utah, vs Utah Valley, @ Seattle
6] Cal State Fullerton Titans (3-5)
Austen Awosika, Brandon Kamga and Wayne Arnold have been pacing the Titans with double digit points per outing, as Fullerton looks to surprise their conference foes with some momentum heading into conference play. With tune -ups warming down, Fullerton doesn’t have the easiest road.
Next Five: @ Pacific, vs Sacramento State, vs San Diego, vs San Francisco, @ Loyola Maramount
7] Cal State Northridge Matadors (1-7)
Northridge was a tough team to gauge coming into the season, being led by Lamine Diane, the conference’s reigning player of the year and freshman of the year and high scoring Terrell Gomez. Diane is yet to play, and the Matadors have greatly struggled, finally notching their first victory against Fresno State by a single tally. Gomez is leading the side with 22.1 points a night, while sophomore Darius Brown II is showing his point guard abilities, averaging a staggering a 3.8 assists per turnover. *CSUN is currently down 44-40 to UW-Green Bay*
Next Five: @ Portland, @ Portland State, vs North Dakota State, @ Pacific, vs San Francisco State
8] UC Davis Aggies (2-6)
Losers of six straight, the Aggies will look to take anything positive they can into conference play. Having three players score in double figures is something many foes can’t claim, and they will be hoping that translates into success during the conference season and tournament.
Next Five: @ Northern Arizona, vs Northern Illinois, @ San Diego, vs Loyola Maramount, @ San Francisco
9] Cal Poly Mustangs (1-7)
Mustangs have yet to record a victory against a Division 1 opponent, a task which doesn’t seem likely for the remainder of the non-conference season. Poly does have six players averaging over seven points, in a year which they are looking to develop the roster for the future.
Next Five: vs Siena, vs Fresno State, @ Sacramento State, vs Cal-Bakersfield, @ San Diego State