Nothing that the Cal State Bakersfield men’s basketball team — or any other team in the Western Athletic Conference — does in the final two contests of the regular season on Thursday and Saturday will change which game the Roadrunners will draw for the first round of the conference tournament.
Regardless of what happens, CSUB (16-12, 7-7 WAC) will play in the No. 4 against No. 5 seed matchup at 2:30 p.m. on March 14 at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. The most likely opponent will be Texas-Rio Grande Valley (18-14, 9-6).
It changes things, but it doesn’t make the final two games — at Seattle on Thursday at 7 p.m. and at Utah Valley on Saturday at 6 p.m. — unimportant, Roadrunners head coach Rod Barnes said.
“We know we’re in that game. We know who we’re playing. But it’s more about what we can do this weekend as far as preparing for that,” Barnes said. “Because we know who we’re playing, obviously you go out and try to win these games, you also try to go out and get some other guys some playing time. Realizing that you’re not moving, it’s just a different kind of approach. I think it helps us in a way.”
CSUB is coming off 73-69 loss at Grand Canyon and has lost six of its last seven games. The Roadrunners, though, were up at halftime and led by one point with 30 seconds left.
CSUB was “one play away,” Barnes said, from beating GCU, which is tied for second in the WAC and has one of the rowdiest home crowds in the conference.
The Roadrunners weren’t happy with the loss but the feeling afterward was different than the other six. It was the team’s best 40 minutes of play on offense and defense in about a month, Barnes said.
“Usually, I don’t feel good after a loss, but I felt good after that one because we started to play together,” CSUB senior James Suber said. “We started to buy into what the coaches said. We started to sit down, play defense play as hard as we can each possession. We’re making the extra plays, extra pass, diving on the floor.
CSUB hasn’t seen Seattle (16-13, 4-10) and Utah Valley (21-8, 10-4) since it hosted and beat the two teams the first weekend in January. Two months later, Utah Valley is 10-4 and tied for second in the WAC. Seattle is 4-10 and in eighth place, ahead of only Chicago State.
The Roadrunners are relatively healthy for the first time in a while, Barnes said. Most significantly, Barnes said redshirt sophomore guard Taze Moore is closer to 100 percent. Moore’s minutes will still be managed considering the goal will be for him to play three games in three days one week later.
At this point in the year, a little rest could benefit anyone, forward Justin Edler-Davis said. He and Suber think that knowing their WAC Tournament game is set changes nothing about the next two games, though.
CSUB women’s basketball finishes out season at home
The Cal State Bakersfield women’s basketball team will host Seattle on Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Icardo Center and Utah Valley at 1 p.m. on Saturday to finish out the regular season.
CSUB’s WAC Tournament seeding is up in the air and will depend heavily on the last two games.
“One game at a time,” CSUB head coach Greg McCall said. “Take each game, break that down by each quarter.”
The Roadrunners (12-15, 8-6 WAC) are tied for fourth place with Utah Valley. A win over the Wolverines (14-13, 8-6) would put CSUB ahead of UVU in the standings.
CSUB could finish as high as the No. 2 seed and as low as No. 5.
Seattle (1-26, 1-13) is currently in last place.