DENVER — Five NCAA Tournament appearances and a lone win in the Round of 64.
The UC Santa Barbara men's basketball team may not have the resume that the Baylor Bears do in the postseason, but they do believe in themselves.
"I actually like this matchup for UCSB," voice of the Gauchos, Max Kelton said.
Kelton handles play-by-play duties on UC Santa Barbara athletic broadcasts. He has been with the team for a number of years and gave us insight into how this mid-major handles itself.
The first thing Baylor fans will see when playing UCSB is the explosive Ajay Mitchell who won the Big West Player of the Year.
“Baylor allows opponents to shoot 45 percent from the field, that’s last in the Big 12 and that’s the fourth lowest mark amongst all tournament teams, a field of 68," Kelton said. "UCSB is eighth in the country in field goal percentage and one of the best two-point teams in the nation.”
One focus for the Bears will be rebounding. When they lost to Iowa State in the Big 12 Tournament, they were out-rebounded 44-17. Kelton says that the Gauchos could pose a similar problem.
“UCSB's rebounding numbers aren’t very high, but they also limit rebound to opponents at an elite level, top 10 in the country," said Kelton. "They have to box out not just in the interior but around the perimeter as well because Baylor shoots so many three pointers, long shots create long rebounds.”
Kelton was quick to point out that the last four times a 3-seed was upset by a 14-seed in the NCAA Tournament, all of those 3-seeds were from the Big 12. Baylor experienced that pain in 2015 against Georgia State.
With that in mind, the hometown announcer may be a bit biased, but he gave us his prediction.
“I think it’s going to be 80-78 Gauchos, as they shock the world, move onto the next round.”
That game tips-off at 12:30 CT on Friday. The Bears are 10.5 point favorites and if they win, they will play the winner of North Carolina State and Creighton.