2023 Big West Basketball Tournament Betting Preview, Bracket & Odds

2023 Big West Basketball Tournament Betting Preview, Bracket & Odds article feature image
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Grant Halverson/NCAA Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: Cal State Fullerton’s Jalen Harris.

The Big West Tournament has arrived after one of the most competitive regular seasons in recent memory.

When all was said and done, both UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara took home a share of the Big West regular-season title, with UC Riverside just one game back of making it a three-way tie for first place.

In addition, both Hawaii and Cal State Fullerton sat just two and three games back, respectively, putting themselves in serious contention for a regular-season title.

The wide-open nature of the Big West regular season has translated to the Big West Tournament bracket. As it currently sits, there are four teams with odds better than 10-1 to win outright, with UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara sitting at +220 and +250, respectively.

In order to find some betting value, I will preview the top teams in the conference, which all have varying degrees of likelihood to make a run to the championship game slated for March 11.


2023 Big West Tournament Bracket


2023 Big West Tournament Odds

TeamOdds (Via FanDuel)
UC Irvine+150
UC Santa Barbara+170
Cal State Fullerton+500
UC Riverside+1100
Hawaii+1400
UC Davis+2500
Long Beach State+8000
CSU Bakersfield+13000
Cal Poly+13000
CSU Northridge+13000

Big West Performance Change in Last 30 Days


UC Irvine Anteaters

By defeating third-place UC Riverside twice, the Anteaters earned the No. 1 overall seed despite winning only a share of the Big West regular-season title.

Head coach Russell Turner will be looking for his third NCAA Tournament appearance in his 13th season at the helm for UC Irvine.

The Anteaters will look to accomplish this through a balanced attack on both ends of the floor. Irvine ranks second in the Big West in Offensive Efficiency and third in Defensive Efficiency. Additionally, Irvine is one of the few teams in the BW that's not afraid to play an uptempo style on both ends.

The Anteaters rank 74th nationally in Adjusted Tempo, good for third in the BW behind only UC Davis and Long Beach State.

Given the wide-open nature of this year's Big West Tournament, I don't see much value in a UC Irvine team at its current price. Although Irvine will have a favorable quarterfinal matchup, it must then face the winner of Hawaii and Cal State Fullerton in the semifinal, and both teams took down the Anteaters during the regular season.

And although UC Irvine’s defense has been solid, it's struggled to create turnovers. The Anteaters rank eighth in the conference in turnover percentage at just 17.4%. Without these extra possessions, UC Irvine will leave the door open to potentially get knocked off before it reaches the championship.

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UC Santa Barbara Gauchos

The next team on our list took home its share of the Big West regular-season title by playing a much different style than UC Irvine.

The UC Santa Barbara Gauchos are the most experienced and methodical team in the BW this season. The Gauchos rank No. 1 in the conference in Offensive Efficiency despite ranking ninth in tempo.

This half-court style is shown in the fact that Santa Barbara scores 53.2% of its baskets as the result of an assist, the highest rate in the Big West.

Although the Gauchos offense has been clinical, they haven't developed the same level of consistency on the defensive end of the floor, ranking seventh in the BW in Defensive Efficiency.

This inability to string together consistent possessions on the defensive end has pushed UC Santa Barbara to dead last in the Bayesian Performance Ratings over the last 30 days.

In addition, because the Gauchos lost the regular-season tiebreaker, they must now stare down a potential matchup with the winner of UC Riverside and UC Davis in the semifinals.

This is important to note as both UC Davis and UC Riverside rank inside the top four in Offensive Efficiency. The Highlanders also took down the Gauchos in their last meeting, 74-63.

Given their draw and defensive struggles, I simply can’t invest in the Gauchos at their current price of +250.


Cal State Fullerton Titans

This brings me to the first team I believe is worth an investment at its current price. Although Cal State Fullerton finished in fourth place in the Big West standings due to a struggling offense, the Titans have consistently had the best defense in the conference.

Defensively, the Titans rank No.1 in the BW in Adjusted Efficiency, turnover percentage and 3-point percentage. The ability to create pressure on the defensive end has helped the Titans put together a six-game winning streak to end the season, including wins over Hawaii, UC Riverside and UC Santa Barbara.

In addition, the Titans have one of the best all-around players in Latrell Wrightsell. The junior point guard leads the Titans in points, assists, and steals.

Latrell Wrightsell 🧅 pic.twitter.com/iLzcWbINwC

— Dim Jonovan (@DrRoddy_) January 27, 2023

I love the value Cal State Fullerton possesses at 6-1 odds, even given its first-round matchup with a Hawaii team that's trending in the right direction. KenPom currently projects the Titans to win in another close contest with Hawaii by a score of 63-62.

Given how closely matched these two teams are, Hawaii is certainly worth a glance alongside Cal State Fullerton.


Hawaii Rainbow Warriors

Much like Fullerton, the Rainbow Warriors have built their success this season through consistent play on the defensive end, ranking second in the Big West in Defensive Efficiency.

This defensive success can be attributed to Hawaii’s ability to defend the 3-point line. The Rainbow Warriors rank No. 1 in the BW in that area, allowing opponents to attempt just 25.1% of their total attempts from beyond the arc.

That'll be significant in their quarterfinal matchup with Cal State Fullerton, which shoots the most 3-point attempts in the conference.

This stylistic advantage makes the Rainbow Warriors worth a look at their current odds of over 7-1.


UC Riverside Highlanders

UC Riverside finished just one game back of first place in the BW standings but leaves much to be desired on both ends of the floor.

The Highlanders have found some of their success on the glass ranking No.2 in the Big West in offensive rebounding percentage.

But overall, UC Riverside’s offense is otherwise reliant on its outside shooting abilities to make up for its lack of pressure on the defensive end. The Highlanders score 35.2% of their points from beyond the arc, the highest rate in the BW.

On the other end, UC Riverside ranks seventh in turnover percentage, creating turnovers on just 17.8% of opponent possessions.

In order to make a run in the Big West Tournament, the Highlanders would need to string together three impressive outside shooting performances to make up for their shortcomings defensively.


Big West Tournament Conclusion & Picks

Overall, I see the best value in the Big West Tournament coming out of the quarterfinal matchup between Hawaii and Cal. State Fullerton. This matchup features the two best defenses in the conference and a pair of offenses that have shown flashes of efficiency this season.

Given the ceiling of this Cal State Fullerton team and its recent form, I believe it presents the best value in this field. The Titans can be found at FanDuel at +600.

I would also recommend a play on the Rainbow Warriors of Hawaiii given the perimeter defense they'll implement against Cal State Fullerton.

If Hawaii can pull off the upset over Fullerton, look for it to use its defense to stay competitive in a potential semifinal matchup with UC Irvine.

In what's sure to be a thrilling and highly-competitive Big West Tournament, I love the idea of fading some of the top teams that have shown weaknesses down the stretch.

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