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Big West Tournament Championship preview for No. 1 UC Santa Barbara vs. No. 2 UC Irvine

UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine face off in the 2021 Big West Championship game. We break down everything for watching the game, including the start time, TV schedule, odds, picks, and more.

UC Irvine Anteaters guard Isaiah Lee dribbles the ball in the first half against the Southern California Trojans at Galen Center. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

In a championship game with a bid to the NCAA Tournament on the line, as well as a celebration of the world’s best public university system, the Big West No. 1 seed UC Santa Barbara Gauchos will take on the No. 2 seed UC Irvine Anteaters Saturday night in the Big West Final.

These two teams played a doubleheader at the Bren Events Center in Irvine on December 27th and 28th, with the Anteaters winning both games by scores of 75-56 and 73-69. Collin Welp leads the Bug Munchers with 14.9 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, but UCI is known for their defense. They have nine players averaging double-digit minutes this season, and are 32nd in adjusted defense nationally according to KenPom.com.

UCSB likes to score around the rim, with senior guard and Big West Conference Player of The Year Jaquori McLaughlin the leading scorer at 15.9 points per game. The Gauchos have only lost one game in 2021, and scored two solid wins over Long Beach State and UC Davis to get to tonight’s battle.

Let’s take a look at today’s Big West Championship matchup from the Michelob Ultra Arena inside the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

No. 1 UC Santa Barbara vs. No. 2 UC Irvine, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Point Spread: UCSB -2.5
Point Total: 126.5

They may not be in the Thunderdome, but UCSB has been the most consistent team in the league this season. With a senior guard in McLaughlin that’s playing well, they should be the choice to get back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011.

The pick: UCSB -2.5

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