Read through the rest of the NCAA Tournament Cheat Sheets here.
Conference: Big West
Coach: Dan Monson
Record: 25-8, 15-1 (1st)
Rankings and Ratings:
- Kenpom: 35
- RPI: 38
- AP/Coaches: NR
How’d they get here? Automatic bid. The 49ers’ first bid since 2007 was a slow build for Monson’s group, which finally beat Santa Barbara in the Big West title game.
What seed will they get? Probably a 12. Then it’ll be everyone’s pick to pull off an upset.
Names to know: Casper Ware (16.9 ppg, 3.2 apg), Larry Anderson (14.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg), T.J. Robinson (12.2 ppg, 10.2 rpg).
Stats to know: The 49ers make a lot of their 2s (52 percent) and are better than average beyond the arc (35.8 percent), but wretched from the free-throw line (67.2 percent). Too bad they get there on 43.3 percent of their field-goal attempts.
Tendencies: Everything runs through Ware, the cat-quick senior point guard who’s the team’s leading scorer and two-time conference player of the year. He can get by any defender and either finishes himself or pens up shots for others. They can run, but haven’t pushed it too much. They’ve also turned up the defensive pressure lately, doing a better job at challenging shots.
Big wins, bad losses: Wins against Pitt and Xavier were once hailed as superb. Now they’re just OK. Only one bad loss, the regular-season finale vs. Cal-State Fullerton.
Outlook: The 49ers spent all season – really, the last three years – working toward this point by playing brutally tough schedules and maintain the same group of core players in that time. Now, with four seniors and a junior as starters, this experienced, balanced and talented group could win a game in the tournament. Maybe two. All those close losses? They’re OK. More worrisome will be Anderson’s health. He missed the entire Big West tournament because of a sprained ligament in his right knee. The league’s top defender is essential to any NCAA tournament wins for Long Beach.
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