Old Dominion advanced into the semifinals of the Vegas 16 with a comfortable win over Tennessee Tech yesterday. The Monarchs achieved balance in the form of Trey Freeman, Aaron Bacote and Zoran Talley reaching into double figures with Brandan Stith coming on strong in the second half.
Tonight they will need that and more against a “sneak” good UCSB Gauchos team.
UCSB (19-13) finished 4th in the Big West Conference, the one that produced a 13 over 4 upset with Hawaii over California. It is a nine team league that consists of four fairly strong programs (Long Beach State, UCSB, UC Irvine and Hawaii) and five others on the opposite end of the spectrum. To the credit of the conference, they go out and play people. Long Beach State is known to schedule up and UCSB followed that script this season as well.
The Gauchos’ 19-13 record is deceiving, they played five teams from the PAC-12 (with one win) and also own a win over NCAA Tournament participant Iona. They did lose three times to Hawaii with their own conference but closed strong with a nine game winning streak into the Big West Tournament. It was a schedule that all mid-major teams should strive to create.
UCSB currently sits as Kenpom’s 81st strongest team which would easily qualify as the best in Conference USA. ODU is #1 in C-USA, ranked 106th if that helps to hammer the point that UCSB is a worthy team.
Michael Bryson (6’5) is a two-time all Big West 1st team selection, having averaged 18.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per game this season. The senior shot 48 percent from the field while going 82 percent from the line and 38 percent from deep. Bryson shoots and makes a ton of threes with a 9/18 performance earlier this season in a win over Seattle.
Gabe Vincent (6’3) was named honorable mention Big West this past season, averaging 14.1 points while being just as efficient from the field as Bryson. Vincent just posted a 20 point outing in the quarterfinal win over Northern Illinois on just ten attempts from the field.
UCSB is a jump shooting team, probably even more so than the Monarchs. The Gauchos only get 16.6 percent of their scoring from the free throw line which is among the lowest in the nation. They get their offense from two highly efficient scorers which has been enough paired with a very good defense to win on most nights.
The Gauchos are one of the best defensive teams ODU has seen this season. USCB’s adjusted defensive efficiency checks in at #62 nationally which is 32 spots ahead of the Monarchs. The Gauchos defend the perimeter as well as anyone yet still force the opposition to launch a disproportionate amount of bombs. UCSB is among the best nationally at limiting made two’s which is ODU’s bread and butter.
Kenpom is calling for a 63-61 UCSB slug fest of a victory over ODU.
The tip is at 9pm and available on CBS Sports Network.