ST. GEORGE — With three weeks remaining in the college basketball season, the Dixie State men’s basketball team is positioned very well to win the PacWest season championship.
The Red Storm, who return to action with a home game Saturday night vs. Notre Dame de Namur, currently sit alone in third place at 11-3 behind Azusa Pacific (12-2) and BYU-Hawaii (11-2) and a half-game ahead of California Baptist (10-3) in the win column. Point Loma is three games out, standing alone in fifth at 9-5. PacWest Conference Commissioner Bob Hogue believes all top-five teams have a shot at regional invitations. The PacWest Tournament in Irvine will have huge ramifications on final regional selection.
Regionally the PacWest has fared very well. The PacWest competes with the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) and the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) in the NCAA’s West Region. While overall records of 16-13 against the CCAA and 15-14 against the GNAC are unimpressive, when you compare the top five schools from each conference, the records tilt heavily in the PacWest’s favor. The PacWest’s top five teams are 6-1 against the CCAA’s top five and 5-1 against the GNAC’s top five.
Western Oregon, the leader of the GNAC, has only two non-conference losses — both against PacWest teams (APU and PLNU). Cal-Poly Pomona, the leader of the CCAA, has only one non-conference loss — against Point Loma.
No. 19-ranked Azusa Pacific still has two games against Cal Baptist, last year’s season champion. APU will also host BYU-Hawaii, who beat the Cougars in Hawaii. Azusa Pacific wins the conference season title if the Cougars win their remaining games.
BYU-Hawaii, currently ranked 16th nationally and the hottest team in the league with a seven-game win streak, has a tough mainland week in mid-February when the Seasiders will play three consecutive away games against APU, Cal Baptist and Point Loma. The BYU-H will win the conference season title if it wins its remaining games.
Cal Baptist, ranked 16th last week before dropping out of the top 25, has the home and home against APU and also hosts the Seasiders. Cal Baptist will get at least a share of the conference title if the Lancers win their remaining games.
Point Loma Nazarene will host BYU-H on Feb. 14. PLNU has not faced the Seasiders this year and this will be their only match-up. The Sea Lions also travel to Dixie State for the last game of the season. It is still statistically possible for PLNU to win the conference season title, but the four teams in front of them would all have to have an improbable simultaneous collapse. However, a good showing in the conference tournament, coupled with their season wins over tough non-conference opponents could propel them into regional consideration.
Dixie State is the only team out of the PacWest’s top four that does not have to play any of the other four in its remaining schedule. DSU will host Point Loma on the final game of the season Feb. 28. If the Red Storm win out the rest of the season they will finish 20-6 with a 17-3 conference record. If APU and CBU split their games and BYU-H loses at least one of its games on the road then Dixie will get at least a share of the conference season title.
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