The Big West Conference favorites have been handed a big Westwood showdown.
The Matadors released their full regular season schedule for 2008-09 and, as anticipated, it includes a sweet – or sour? – match-up against all-mighty UCLA on Dec. 7 at the Pauley Pavilion.
Northridge was favored by Lindy’s College Basketball magazine to finish first in the Big West as they return three key pieces from last season’s team that won a share of the conference championship. Point guard Josh Jenkins, guard Deon Tresvant and forward Tremaine Tresvant – health withstanding – will take on the challenge of repeating an 8-year-old upset. Northridge beat UCLA on Nov 21, 2000 on that same court. It was the last time Bruins and Matadors met.
The Matadors qualified to their only NCAA Division I Tournament that season, but haven’t returned since. The Bruins hit a couple of bumps on the way as well, but have been in the Final Four for three consecutive years.
There’s quite a few games on the schedule before CSUN has to face the Bruins, however. It all begins with two exhibition games: Against La Verne on Nov. 3 and Carroll College on Nov. 7. Both games will be played at the Matadome. Then, the regular season starts with a home game against Cal Lutheran on Nov. 14.
The game against the Kingsmen will only be a teaser, however, as the Matadors will then embark on a rough six game road trip that will see them play another historical program in Stanford on Nov. 18. The next five games will take Northridge from north to east as they’ll face Cal State Bakersfield, New Mexico, Rider – a rematch of last season’s one-point nail-biter, Drexel and, finally, the Bruins.
Northridge will have three more games before finally kicking off conference play by taking on last year’s Big West’s NCAA Tournament representative, Cal State Fullerton, on Dec. 29. The road game will be a grudge match for the Matadors, who were eliminated by the Titans during the 2008 conference tournament.
From then on it will all be conference games with the exception of two matches: a home non-conference rematch against the Roadrunners on Feb. 5 and an ESPNU Bracketbuster game against a yet-to-be-determined rival on Feb. 21.
Can’t-miss conference match-ups:
Jan. 2 vs. Pacific: The first conference game at the Matadome will see the Matadors hosting Pacific, a team that has owned them these last few years. Northridge won the home game handily last season and lost a heartbreaker at Stockton in which the Tigers sent the game into overtime with a shot at the buzzer.
Jan. 21 vs. Cal State Fullerton: The Matadors receive Josh Akognon and the Titans at the Matadome and it will be vital for Northridge to come out on top this time around. Last season the Titans were the first team to come into Northridge and get out with a victory. The Matadors repaid Cal State Fullerton by beating them on their home floor later that month.
Feb. 25 vs. UC Santa Barbara: Alex Harris is back and that spells problem for anyone not rooting for UC Santa Barbara. The guard was one of the top 35 scoring players in the nation last season and the Matadors need to find a way to control him so that he doesn’t lead his Gauchos to a second consecutive road win over Northridge. UC Santa Barbara was ranked to finish second behind the Matadors, who need to win this game in order for the predictions to be right.
Feb. 28 vs. Long Beach State: Harris was the 34th leading scorer in college basketball. Long Beach State guard Donovan Morris was 21st and with minimal help from his teammates. An improved roster makes the 49ers a dangerous team to face, even at home.
March 3 at Pacific: A road game against Pacific to close the regular season. It could be a conference-clincher.
Men’s Basketball 2008-2009 Schedule