The Long Beach State 49ers are looking to make their first NCAA Tournament in five years. But the best team in the Big West Conference just might have to win its conference tournament in order to do so. The 49ers won 22 games, went 15-1 in the Big West, and had arguably the toughest non-conference schedule in the country, facing five teams ranked in the top 14.
But in the latest edition of bracketology by Joe Lunardi at ESPN, Long Beach State is projected as an 11 seed in the South Region, playing Notre Dame in the first round in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with a possible matchup with No. 3 seed Baylor in the second round.
Generally the 11 or 12 seeds are the lowest of the at large bids, so that the 49ers are projected there means they have little room for error in the Big West Tournament. If they lose the tournament final, as they have for each of the last two seasons to UCSB, would that be enough for Long Beach State to get an at-large berth? It might be enough, but it's probably best for the 49ers to win the Big West Tournament just to be safe.