College Basketball Invitational’s best-of-three championship series on Monday. From War Memorial Gymnasium. We get to watch more Bogdan Bliznyuk And An All-WAC Final Four Maybe.
The San Francisco Dons are the last basketball team standing in the West Coast Conference, and come Monday, they’ll begin the College Basketball Invitational’s best-of-three championship series by hosting North Texas.
The two sides have taken radically different paths to get to the final series, with North Texas winning three games by double-digit margins behind a high-flying offense while USF has squeaked out three tight games.
To beat the Mean Green, San Francisco (21-15) will have to find a way to slow down an offense that has averaged 92 points in CBI play. Roosevelt Smart averages 19.3 points per game for North Texas (18-17), and his 20-point output in a semifinal win over Jacksonville State was his lowest of the tournament.
Just like USF, the Mean Green can light it up from outside. They’ve racked up 40 3-pointers in three tournament games. The Dons may need to do some damage in the paint, like they’ve done against undersized opponents so far in the tournament. Matt McCarthy had double-doubles in both USF’s first-round win over Colgate and a semifinal win over Campbell, with 14 rebounds in each. If he can match up with 6-foot-9-inch Shane Temara, the Dons will have a chance to control the interior, which would alleviate some of the pressure for Frankie Ferrari and the rest of the San Francisco guards. Ferrari was brilliant in a second-round win over Utah Valley, tallying 11 assists. Jordan Ratinho and Chase Foster, the lone senior on the roster, each tied for high-point honors in that game with 20.
The opening game is set for 7 p.m. at War Memorial at the Sobrato Center, and Wednesday’s second game of the series will be played at North Texas’ Super Pit. The third game, if necessary, would be played on Friday night in Denton.
With the NCAA Tournament and NIT fields officially released, the remaining intrigue of the night turned to the College Basketball Invitational (OK, maybe that’s just me). Anyway, the 16-team field has been unveiled as well. Here it is:
4 BID WAC:
Seattle, UTRGV, Utah Valley, and Grand Canyon all received bids to the CBI. An all-WAC Final Four would be insanely dumb and it is what you should cheer for.
Players to Watch:
Jordan Howard, Central Arkansas: Averaging 25 points per game including a 35-point game against UCLA and 43 against Stephen F Austin.
Nick Dixon, Texas Rio Grande Valley: Averaging just over 20 points, he is a consistent scorer for UTRGV, scoring at least 14 points in every game.
Bogdan Bliznyuk, Eastern Washington: A 6’6 senior from Ukraine, he is EWU’s leading scorer and has a fun name to drunkenly yell. And if you’re watching the CBI Tournament while sober (and you’re not a fan of a participating team), you have a problem and need to seek help.
The best part about this tournament is that the championship is a best-of-three series, which is something that the NCAA Tournament should do for all of the Final Four matchups.
Last year’s champion was the Wyoming Cowboys, who failed to make any tournaments this year.