DAVIS, Calif. — The University of Hawai‘i men’s basketball team will enter a critical Big West Conference season finale against UC Davis at 2 p.m. Friday and Saturday at UC Davis’s gymnasium.
The regular-season conference finale is important because it will dictate where the ‘Bows will play headed into the Big West Conference Tournament held at the Mandalay Bay Events Center March 9 to 13 in Las Vegas.
The ‘Bows, who are currently in sixth place in the Big West, are trying to secure a higher seed in the Big West tournament.
Back-to-back victories over the Aggies would help Hawai‘i move into fourth place before the tournament.
Positioning themselves to get a higher seed would increase their chances of winning the tournament significantly.
If they face a lower seed in the first round, that would potentially give them a better opportunity to advance and establish momentum in a tournament with high stakes.
The winner of the Big West Conference tournament will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Division I basketball tournament.
Typically, the mid-major colleges don’t receive at-large bids to the tournament unless they have a flawless regular-season record and conference record.
The Hawai‘i men’s basketball team is heavily predicated on four players who are leading the way for the team in generating points per game.
Hawai‘i guard Justin Webster is one of the major contributors for the ‘Bows in points per game. He currently leads the ‘Bows offensive charge by averaging 12.4 points per game.
Webster has also played the most minutes per contest of anyone, averaging over 30 minutes per game on the court.
James Jean-Marie is averaging 12.4 points per contest with 3.4 rebounds per game.
Hawai‘i forward Casdon Jardine is averaging 11.6 points per game and 5.6 rebounds per contest.
Junior Madut is another player who is contributing double digits to the ‘Bows offense.
Madut is currently averaging 10.9 points per game.
The UH contributions are significant, but they may not be enough to win both games.
UC Davis has players the ‘Bows will need to account for if they are going to have a chance to win both games.
Ezra Manjon is leading the offensive charge averaging 15.9 points per game, and he has plenty of offensive support.
Elijah Pepper is averaging 14.7 points per game, Damion Squire is averaging 12 and Caleb Fuller is averaging 11 points per game.
Hawai‘i will have to shut these players down if they are to position themselves well for the upcoming Big West tournament, which are the big games that will dictate the length of the ‘Bows’ season.