Big West (23-8, 12-4)
Big Wins: 11/27 UNLV (63-60), 1/12 at Cal State Fullerton (87-72), 3/6 at Cal State Northridge (77-66)
Bad Losses: 1/10 at UC Irvine (63-66), 1/24 Pacific (58-71), 2/9 UC Irvine (59-65)
Coach: Bob Williams
Justin Joyner, Sophomore, Guard, 3.7 ppg, 3.6 apg
James Powell, Sophomore, Guard, 12.1 ppg, 2.2 apg
Alex Harris, Senior, Guard, 20.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg
Chris Devine, Junior, Forward, 12.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg
Ivan Elliott, Senior, Forward, 9.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg
D.J. Posley, Junior, Guard, 2.7 ppg, 1.9 rpg
Paul Roemer, Sophomore, Guard, 2.3 ppg, 1.7 apg
Nedim Pajevic, Senior, Forward, 5.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg
Why They Can Surprise:
Hitting nearly 42 percent of your three-point attempts is a great indicator when picking an upset. UCSB is one of the best shooting teams from beyond the arc in the nation and when the shot is falling, the Gauchos can beat anybody. Unlike most great shooting teams, UCSB only has two players who take a majority of the long balls. Alex Harris hits 2.4 per game at a 42.9 percent clip. James Powell hits 2.4 per game at an amazing 45.6 percent. Those are a couple of great wings.
But they do not just shoot the long ball, especially Harris. The 6-6 senior will use his size and strength to finish around the basket and he gets to the free-throw line seven times a game. And since he shoots over 80 percent from the charity stripe, it is even better that he gets to the line that often. Harris has been extremely efficient, scoring between 13 and 31 points in every game he has played, but he will need something closer to the latter to pull off an upset in March.
Why They Can Disappoint:
Forwards Chris Devine and Ivan Elliott can score and create space for the shooters on the wing, but the rebounding has been a problem. The team gets outrebounded by about three boards per game and they will not be able to afford to give away second chance points. The only frontcourt option off the bench is Nedim Pajevic, who does a decent job on the glass, but is not much of an improvement over the starters in that department. The team also commits a lot of fouls and those are the only three frontcourt players who see much action. Luckily, the Gauchos foul trouble tends to be spread out, so Devine and Elliott do not commit as many fouls as it would appear.
Who To Watch:
The big guys are decent passers and can find the scorers quite a bit, but it is up to point guard Justin Joyner to collapse the defense and open up Harris or Powell for the long ball. Joyner is a pure playmaker and will rarely look to score. He can put up points more than he does, but rarely will UCSB and Coach Bob Williams need him to with the talent on the wings. Joyner is the piece of the puzzle that makes everything else work as well as it does. If he can get to the basket, Harris and Powell will do the rest.
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 70.5 (142nd in nation, 4th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 64.2 (69, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.9 (85, 5)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.7 (167, 3)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.7 (76, 2)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 41.8 (3, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 76.1 (11, 1)
Rebound Margin: -2.9 (277, 8)
Assists Per Game: 14.7 (88, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 14.5 (185, 4)
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