Nov. 1, 2002
Santa Barbara, Calif. -
The UC Santa Barbara basketball team received three votes in the season's initial ESPN/USA Today Top-25 Coaches Poll, ranking the Gauchos in a tie with Pennsylvania for 52nd in the nation. This marks the first time since 1992 that UCSB has received votes in the poll.
Last year, UCSB won the Big West Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1990. The Gauchos' first round opponent in the NCAA Tournament, Arizona, is the top-ranked team in the nation. Utah State, the team that UCSB defeated in the Big West title game is tied for 58th in this year's first poll.
Santa Barbara, which opens its preseason with a Tuesday, November 12 game against Team Ezybonds, an Australian club team, finished the 2001-02 campaign with a 20-11 overall record and an 11-7 mark in the Big West Conference. After entering the Big West Tournament as the third-seeded team, the Gauchos posted wins over Cal Poly, second-seeded UC Irvine and top-seeded Utah State to earn their first tournament crown.
UCSB opens the regular season on Friday, November 22 when they take on Weber State in the first round of the BP Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska. Ball State, which is in the same bracket as the Gauchos and could be a second round opponent in the tournament, was also among the teams receiving votes.
In addition to Ball State and Utah State, several of UCSB's other opponents this season received recognition in the year's first poll. USC (December 3), Pepperdine (December 7) and Cal (December 10) were also included among team's receiving votes, as was a possible opponent Hawaii (ESPN's Bracket Busters on February 22).