Now that CBU has secured the outright regular season title and No. 1 seed, all eyes move towards three teams in a tie for second place. Grand Canyon, Seattle, and Utah Valley are all 6-4 and tied for second place. New Mexico State, at 3-5, trails that group by a game. This weekend’s featured series is between Seattle and Grand Canyon against each other in Phoenix.
Here’s why finishing second place in the regular season standings is so important this year. Yes, California Baptist can participate in the WAC Tournament despite still being in its transition phase. But, due to this transition phase, CBU isn’t eligible for the NCAA Tournament. Therefore, if CBU wins the WAC Tournament, because of its ineligibility to the NCAA Tournament, the team that finishes second in the regular season standings gets the WAC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Friday, February 26 & Saturday, February 27
6 p.m. MT both days
WAC Digital Network or GCU.tv on YouTube both days
This is the final regular season series for GCU while Seattle has one more WAC series next weekend, hosting regular season champion California Baptist University.
Keys to the Series
1. Redhawk ball handlers against the pressure…
By this point it’s pretty well known that the Lopes can turn teams over at an impressive rate (24.45, 2nd Nationally .69 behind future WAC member Stephen F. Austin). How well Seattle handles that press will be a huge part of which way this series falls. Pay particular attention to the Friday/Saturday split in this category. Opponents recorded seventeen fewer turnovers against GCU’s pressure on Saturday but are only 1-2 in game 2’s the last three weeks. They are 2-1 on Friday’s despite averaging 23 turnovers.
2. Home sweet home…
GCU is 11-2 at home this year while the Redhawks are 4-7 as a road team this year (it should be noted that one of those seven losses came at the hands of Oregon in Eugene). Home teams in the WAC have been winning at an impressive clip this year. If someone sweeps they put themselves in prime position to win that race for 2nd although Seattle has one series left. A split gives Utah Valley & New Mexico State an opportunity to stay in the race.
3. Balanced scoring…
Both Seattle and Grand Canyon feature balanced offenses. Katie Scott & Tiarra Brown are the only two Lopes to average double digit scoring but behind them three others average between 9.3 & 9.8 points per game in Laura Piera, Taylor Caldwell & Ny’Dajah Jackson. McKenzi Williams leads the Redhawks at 16.2 PPG. Behind her three others average at least 11.5 PPG in Courtney Murphy, Georgia Kehoe, and Bree Calhoun.
Last week’s sweep by CBU will put a fire under the Lopes who haven’t had that happen all year. I think they’ll parlay that disappointment into a sweep at home. Then, GCU will wait see what happens next week in that race for the potential NCAA Tournament spot.