Fifth or sixth. Neither sound terribly appealing, but those are the only possibilities in play when Hawaii takes on Cal State Fullerton in the regular-season finale at Titan Gym today.
If UH (16-12, 7-8 Big West) were to spring a mild upset and win, in conjunction with a Long Beach State home loss to UC Riverside (possible, but not terribly likely), the Rainbow Warriors are the 5 seed in next week’s Big West tournament and will appear in the 4-5 bracket for the second straight year. If UH loses today or LBSU wins, it’ll be the 6 — their lowest seeding in the BWT to date — and face the 3 seed.
Either way, they’ll be facing a to-be-determined top-four team. It could by any of UC Irvine, UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara and Fullerton.
If you’re UH, you really want to use this game to rediscover what works heading into the tournament — win or loss. Avoiding another slow start is wrapped up in that; UH averaged 22.5 points before halftime in its last two losses.
Tipoff is at 1 p.m. HST and is televised on Fox Sports Prime Ticket. Keep your eye on point guard Drew Buggs, who hasn’t missed a game yet this year but had his right wrist wrapped and sat for the whole second half of UH’s 70-59 loss at UC Davis on Thursday.
You can expect Titans guard Kyle Allman to come out guns blazing after what he did against UH last time — the infamous 40-point game on 16-for-19 shooting, in which he hit all manner of pull-up jumpers, contested looks and drives to the rim. That 69-66 loss kicked off a five-game losing streak that basically relegated UH from first to the middle of the pack the rest of the way.
Speaking of streaks, here’s what UH done over the breadth of conference play:
So, maybe UH is due to snap back into a winning streak just in time for the tournament?
You’d expect a greater degree of balanced scoring today between Allman and No. 2 option Khalil Ahmad, who was held scoreless in Honolulu. Forward Jackson Rowe, another all-league-caliber player for CSUF (17-10, 10-5), scored 14 last time.
The Titans are favored by 5.5 points.
Meanwhile, at 5:30 HST, you can watch the de facto Big West regular-season championship game on ESPN3 between UC Davis and UC Irvine. Irvine, playing at home, is a slight favorite to three-peat the regular season and take the top seed for Anaheim.