Men's Basketball, Sports

The ‘magic number’ is 1 for men’s basketball

Big West standings

In sports, the “magic number” refers to either how many wins one team needs or losses it needs by the teams behind them in the standings in order to clinch.

While the Long Beach State men’s basketball team’s loss to Cal State Northridge on Saturday makes winning the regular season Big West Conference title tougher, UC Riverside’s overtime loss at UC Irvine makes finishing in the top-2 much easier.

A top-2 finish guarantees The Beach a pass into the semifinals of the Big West Tournament next Friday, March 13. In other words, LBSU would only need to win Friday and Saturday night to earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Finishing third or worst would leave them with at least three games in three days in Anaheim, a much tougher road.

If they can finish in the top-2, the 49ers will get at least six days of rest and get to play a team on Friday night that has already played at least one game in as many days.

A win Thursday night in San Luis Obispo over Cal Poly will guarantee the two byes for The Beach.

If Long Beach falters there, it can still turn the trick with a win in the season finale at UC Santa Barbara.

If the trip up the coast goes poorly and LBSU drops both, a loss by Pacific (9-6 Big West) at Cal State Northridge would knock them out of the race since the ‘Niners hold the first tiebreaker over the Tigers courtesy of a 2-0 head-to-head record.

The only other team still in the mix is UC Riverside. The Highlanders are only 7-7 in conference play but hold the tiebreaker over Long Beach since they swept the season series.

UCR plays UCSB Thursday and Cal Poly Saturday. If they went 2-0 on their trip coupled with a 0-2 showing from The Beach, then the Highlanders would jump ahead of LBSU for the No. 2 seed.

If LBSU can take care of business this all becomes a moot point. Look for the ‘Niners to come ready to play Thursday night.

Cal Poly is dead-last in the conference at 3-11 and The Beach has a great chance to sweep the Mustangs after a 70-57 win at the Walter Pyramid in January.

In a season full of hotly contested games, the 13-point win over the Mustangs was the second biggest margin of victory and largest in the Big West.

While winning the regular season title would be nice — and Northridge still needs to win out to guarantee that — finishing in the top-2 makes the bigger goal of winning the Big West Tournament a lot easier.

The Matadors (10-4) play Pacific and UC Davis this weekend and if LBSU wins out and CSUN falls to Pacific — while the Tigers finish third — then Long Beach would grab the No. 1 seed.

If they don’t, the No. 2 seed will be just fine. They want to be No. 1 come March 14 and being No. 2 will put them just two wins away from March Madness.

For more men’s basketball coverage, visit Tucker Talks.

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