Today: Women in WNIT, Men in NCAA

Student stands on chair in celebration.
Aggies win! UC Davis freshman Nikita Andrikanis celebrates at watch party held in the Student Community Center for UC Davis’ basketball game against North Carolina Central, the Aggie team’s first appearance ever in the NCAA’s Division I men’s tournament. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis photo)


Men's final: Kansas, 100, UC Davis 62

Read game story.

NCAA men’s tournament Round 1: UC Davis vs. Kansas, 3:50 p.m. PDT today (March 17), BOK Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma.


Women's final: UC Davis 72, Utah 62

Read game story.

WNIT Round 1: UC Davis at Utah, 5 p.m. PDT, Huntsman Center, Salt Lake City

The Aggie women’s and men’s basketball teams both have national tournament games today (March 17) — the women in the WNIT for the fourth time and the men in the NCAA’s Division I tournament for the first time.

The Aggie women are making their fifth postseason appearance in 10 years as a Division I program (having been in the Women's National Invitation Tournament in 2008, ’10 and ’12, and the NCAA in 2011) and are still seeking their first win.

WNIT logo

Today, Big West Coach of the Year Jennifer Gross leads the Aggies in their first-round game against Utah (16-14 and 5-13 in the difficult Pacific-12 Conference that qualified seven teams to the NCAA tournament and three more to the WNIT). The Utes enter the postseason on a two-game losing streak after falling to Washington in their regular season finale and dropping an 18-point decision to Arizona State in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament.

The Aggie men are in Tulsa, Oklahoma — they’re flying on Ag Force One — for the first round of the NCAA tournament's Midwest Regional, having won the right to be there by defeating North Carolina Central, 67-63, in a play-in game Wednesday at the University of Dayton Arena, Dayton, Ohio.

Watch parties here and abroad

Aggie fans gathered at more than 18 watch parties in the United States, London and Australia for the Wednesday game, and there will be parties today, too — including, on campus, a single watch party for the men’s and women’s games (they’ll overlap). See box above.

Beyond the watch parties, other people — lots and lots of people (see our “Box Score”) — are also talking about Aggie basketball and UC Davis.


Like any sporting event, we have stats (covering a period of almost six days, from last Saturday, the day the Aggies won the Big West Conference Tournament to advance to the “Big Dance”) until around noon yesterday (March 16):

  • “UC Davis basketball” popped up online more than 37,000 times — on Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels; news sites and blogs; and more. That’s roughly equal to the number of online mentions we receive in a month.
  • 1.17 million people saw our basketball posts on Facebook.
  • This Facebook post from Wednesday night (after our win over North Carolina Central) is one of our best performing posts in the last 12 months, shared nearly 600 times and seen by more than 133,000 people.
  • This Wednesday night tweet garnered 229 retweets and 380 likes — a record for UC Davis’ main Twitter account.
  • Average increase of 217 percent in profile visits on the university’s main Twitter account, the athletics account and the men’s basketball account. Plus, men’s basketball recorded an average of 100 new followers a day.
  • Average increase of approximately 50 percent in Facebook engagements with the UC Davis, men’s basketball and athletics pages.
NCAA First and Second Rounds logo

Of course, UC Davis as a whole is benefiting from all this exposure — for example, when broadcasters talk on the air about our academic excellence and our student-athletes’ hitting the books, even while on the road in Dayton and Tulsa.

“Glad @UCDavisMBB helping more people to learn about the excellence of @ucdavis,” Athletics Director Kevin Blue said on Twitter the other night. “Many watching on national TV!”

Thursday (March 16), the San Francisco Chronicle reported its "hot" stories and searches for the preceding week — and "UC Davis basketball" topped the search list for the Chronicle and SF Gate websites, beating out "John McCain wiretap."

From Tulsa World newspaper: “UC Davis Might Not Beat Kansas, but They Have Already Won Some Hearts”

1st time for everything

Every media outlet in the country has noted that never has a No. 16 seed defeated a No. 1 seed in this tournament.

But consider this: Exactly 11 years ago today (March 17) in Oakland, Aggies head coach Jim Les led No. 13 seed Bradley to victory over a No. 4 seed — and that No. 4 team happened to be … Kansas. (Les coached at his alma mater Bradley from 2002 to 2011.) After stunning Kansas in the opening round, 77-73, Bradley defeated No. 5 seed Pittsburgh, 72-66, before falling in the Sweet 16 to No. 1 seed Memphis, 80-64.

In this year’s tournament, the Aggies go in with a 22-12 record, against the Jayhawks with a record of 28-4 and No. 3 rankings in the AP and Coaches polls.

The Aggies, though, are playing some of their best basketball of the season — winning seven of their last eight games, including an overtime win against Cal State Fullerton in the Big West tournament semifinal March 10. Then, against North Central Carolina, the Aggies rallied in the second half and held off the Eagles down the stretch.

A different kind of bracket

Every tournament has a bracket, of course, but here’s one that takes a different approach — assessing the 68 universities in the NCAA field on five factors related to support for low-income students. You’ll be happy to know UC Davis defeated North Carolina Central, Kansas, Michigan, Purdue, Michigan State and North Carolina to get to the championship “game” (where we fell to Princeton).

ProPublica, an independent, nonprofit newsroom, assembled its “Nothin’ But Debt” bracket using federal data, including (with UC Davis numbers in parentheses):

  • Number of Pell grantees (42.8 percent of undergraduates in 2014)
  • How much low-income students paid to go to school, per year, on average ($10,492)
  • Discount off total cost, for low-income families (68 percent)
  • Median federal debt for Pell grantees ($13,167)

Men’s and women’s basketball, gymnastics and swimmer Solie Laughlin — keep up to date on all our student-athletes in championship competitions this week.

Follow Dateline UC Davis on Twitter.

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