Record: 24-8 (11-3)
Conference Tournament Seed: 2
NCAA Tournament Seed: 15 (West)
How they got to the Big Dance
The Roadrunners are sprinting straight into the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history after winning their last six games. In fact, they’ve won 10 of their last 11 dating back to Jan. 30. Their conference record of 11-3 earned the Roadrunners the No. 2 seed in the WAC tournament. In the tournament, they easily won their first two matchups. First, a 79-57 win over Chicago State, followed by a 72-47 victory over Seattle. This set up a conference tournament championship matchup with top-seeded New Mexico State, the team that has represented the WAC in the NCAA tournament the past four years. Junior guard Dedrick Basile’s game winning three-pointer with 0.2 seconds left on the clock sent CSU Bakersfield to the Big Dance.
Why they will be a Cinderella team
The Roadrunners may play in a mid-major conference, but their defense deserves serious recognition. First of all, they hold opponents to less than 40 percent shooting from the field. They also block 5.1 shots per game, which ranks 24th in the country. The Roadrunners can also force turnovers. They rank 20th in the nation with 7.8 steals per game. As a result, Bakersfield holds their opponents to 63.6 points per game, which ranks in the top 20 in the nation. These statistics may be attributed to low quality opponents, but one thing is for sure: the Roadrunners are going to put up one hell of a fight defensively to keep themselves in the game. If they do receive a No. 15 seed in the tournament, don’t be surprised if CSU Bakersfield is dancing after the Round of 64.
Why they won’t be a Cinderella team
This is the first time in school history that CSU Bakersfield will be representing the WAC in the NCAA tournament, which could call for some nerves early in the game. And, if you’re playing a high seed, it’s probably not a good idea to fall behind early. It’s very possible that the Roadrunners might start off slow. They also foul people—a lot. They rank 303rd in the country in the amount fouls they commit per game. On the opposite end, when the Roadrunners are fouled, they are dreadful from the free-throw line. They shoot 65.5 percent from the charity strike. If you’re trying to be a Cinderella team, you need to take advantage of any points you can get, and you can’t do that by leaving free points at the line.
Player to Watch- G Dedrick Basil
He is not a top scorer on his team; however, the 5-foot 10 junior guard was the most consistent and maybe the most important player in the WAC tournament for the Roadrunners. During the regular season, he averaged 11.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.8 steals per game. Basil rose to the occasion in the tournament final against New Mexico State and scored a team-high 18 points on 8-16 shooting from the field. But, his most important shot was his last shot—a three-pointer with 0.2 seconds left to take the lead. Basil may not be the star player for Bakersfield, but because of what he’s done for the Roadrunners of late, he’s surely a p
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