There will be Gauchos in the 2011 NCAA Tournament. UC Santa Barbara scored the Big West's automatic NCAA Tournament berth with a 64-56 win over Long Beach State in the Big West Tournament final late Saturday night.
The Gauchos have been led by big guard Orlando Johnson all year, and he didn't disappoint on this night. He led all scorers with 23 points, and helped limit both Casper Ware and Larry Anderson to underwhelming shooting nights for the 49ers.
On the season, though, UCSB hasn't been able to do much to prove its worth. The Gauchos have one marquee win, over UNLV in November, and had been 4-6 over their last 10 games entering the Big West Tournament. That's the sort of profile that translates to a 16 seed — maybe a 15 seed, if the NCAA Selection Committee is feeling charitable — and a quiet first round exit.
The NCAA Tournament appearance is UCSB's second straight. The Gauchos lost to Ohio State in the first round last year.