2024 Big West Conference Tournament

Russell Turner coaches the top team in the Big West, where UC Irvine has won the regular-season title three years in a row, but the league tournament has been a high hurdle that Turner was unable to get over the past two years. The Anteaters (24-8, 17-3) ran away from the pack this season and won the conference by two games. UC San Diego, the second-place finisher, remains ineligible for the postseason while in its fourth and final year of reclassifying to Division I. With the Tritons out of the picture, Irvine has a better shot to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2019.

UC Santa Barbara won the conference tournament as the No. 2 seed a year ago. The second-seeded team this week is UC Davis, which finished 14-6 in league play and split two games with Irvine in January. The Anteaters won the first meeting 74-71 in overtime, and the Aggies took the rematch 54-52.


The 2024 Big West Conference Tournament format changes a little this year as the top two seeds in each bracket receive double-byes into the Friday semifinals. The No. 3 (Hawaii) and No. 4 (Long Beach State) seeds receive byes into Thursday’s quarterfinals. Cal State Fullerton and Cal Poly, which went 0-20 in league games, did not qualify for the tournament field.

How to Watch the Big West Conference Tournament

When: March 13-16.

Where: Dollar Loan Center, Henderson, Nevada.

Format: Eight-team, four-day event. The top two seeds automatically advance into the semifinals and the third and fourth seeds begin play in the second round.

Watch: All games can be viewed on ESPN Networks, with the first and second rounds on ESPN+. The second semifinal will air on ESPNU at 8:30 p.m. PT, with the first semifinal airing live on ESPN+ at 6 p.m. PT and then on tape delay on ESPNU following the conclusion of the late semifinal. Saturday’s championship game will be featured on ESPN2 at 6:30 p.m. PT.

College Basketball Odds | College Basketball Betting Splits | Greg Peterson’s Daily Lines | Steve Makinen’s Power Ratings

Big West Conference Tournament Bracket

Big West Conference Tournament Seeds, Teams and Odds

1. UC Irvine (-200)

2. UC Davis (+450)

3. Hawaii (+850)

4. Long Beach State (11-1)

5. UC Riverside (45-1)

6. UC Santa Barbara (20-1)

7. Cal State Northridge (60-1)

8. Cal State Bakersfield (50-1)

(Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook accurate at time of publish)

Favorite to win Big West Conference Tournament

It’s no surprise that UC Irvine is the odds-on pick (-200), but it’s never easy to lay a high price in a one-bid conference tournament. The Anteaters were upset in this event the past two years. Irvine was impressive in high-profile nonconference matchups, defeating USC 70-60 in November and taking a 63-62 loss at San Diego State in early December. The Anteaters rank No. 73 overall on Kenpom.com, with a defensive efficiency ranking of 36th, and perimeter shooting is a strength for a team that connects on 34.9% from 3-point range. Senior guards Andre Henry and Justin Hohn each shoot 38% or better from 3.

Big West Conference Tournament Darkhorse

If there is a dangerous ‘dog in the bracket, defending champion UC Santa Barbara could display some bark and bite at 20-1 odds. While the sixth-seeded Gauchos stumbled through league play and finished 9-11, they do feature experienced and talented guards who surround 6-foot-11 Yohan Traore. It’s worth remembering that in the preseason poll voted on by the head coaches, UCSB was the favorite and got nine of 11 first-place votes.

Players to Watch in Big West Conference Tournament

Ajay Mitchell, a junior guard for UC Santa Barbara, was last season’s conference Player of the Year. Mitchell is the Gauchos’ leading scorer (19.4 ppg) and a 3-point threat (38.9%). He scored 37 points in a 76-74 win at Long Beach State last week.

Elijah Pepper, a senior guard for UC Davis, was the leading scorer (22.5 ppg) in the Big West last season and has averaged 20.5 points this season. If a game is on the line, Pepper sprays it in at 92.3% from the free-throw line. He scored 28 points with five assists, five rebounds and four 3s in a 70-63 win at UC San Diego last week.

Marcus Tsohonis, a senior guard for Long Beach State, averages 17.6 points and has the ability to take over games. He poured in 35 points in a loss to Michigan in November and scored 46 against UC San Diego last season.

Betting Pick to Win the Big West Conference Tournament

Top-seeded UC Irvine is in the softer half of the bracket and would be the obvious pick to earn the automatic NCAA bid. Still, it’s probably wiser to take a nice price (+450) with UC Davis, which is led by two of the top-scoring guards in the league, Elijah Pepper (20.5 ppg) and Ty Johnson (17.6). Pepper scored 26 points in an overtime loss at UC Irvine, and Johnson hit the winning 3-pointer as the Aggies got revenge two weeks later. Johnson and Pepper are the type of guards who can shake things up in March.

Makinen Power Ratings for Big West Conference

Check out the other previews in our 2024 College Basketball Conference Tournament Betting Guide.