The UC San Diego men’s basketball team started off its postseason run with a bang, taking first place in the California Collegiate Athletic Association Championship last week for the third season in a row. The Tritons won all three of their tournament matches, beating California State University, San Bernardino 98–69, California State University, East Bay 72–68, and California State Polytechnic University, Pomona 71–62.
With this championship win, UCSD is awarded an automatic bid into the NCAA Division-II Men’s Basketball Championship. The early stages of the championship are divided between regions. In order to advance to the final rounds of the national tournament, the Tritons will have to reach and win in the final round of the West Region.
At this point, the schedule and opponents for the tournament are not set, but the team should expect a challenging road to the championship. In head coach Eric Olen’s five-year tenure, the Tritons made it to the first round of the NCAA tournament three times, making it to the West Region final round in 2016 and 2017 and reaching the West Region quarterfinals most recently in 2018.
Though the Tritons have shown a knack for making it into the tournament, they have been unable to break out of the regional stage and move onto the national section of the tournament.
Currently, UCSD is ranked No. 5. If the rankings remain as is, UCSD will face the No. 6 ranked West Region team in the first round of the tournament. This happens to be Cal Poly Pomona, the team the Tritons just beat for the CCAA championship. Given how UCSD handled the Broncos in their last meeting, the Tritons should be expected to make it past the first round. Beyond that, the outcomes are a bit hazy.
Much like its Division-I counterpart March Madness, the Division-II tournament is also known for its surprises and upsets. UCSD has personally experienced it: In 2017 during the final round of the West Region, the No. 1 Tritons lost to the No. 6 California State University, Chico, 94–86, at home.
With no firm knowledge of the rankings yet, UCSD’s matchups are difficult to predict. That being said, this could be another upset-filled tournament. The Tritons may finally get out of the regional stage of the tournament, or they may be eliminated early on. The first round of the tournament starts on March 16. The opponent will be a familiar one.
UCSD will take on their familiar rival in Cal Poly Pomona in the NCAA Div. II West Regional game at Point Loma University on Friday, March 15. The Tritons received the No. 4 seeding in the Div. II Tournament with the Mustangs earning the No. 5 seed.