The NCAA Tournament finals are here — along with a ton of storylines and various tidbits.
Check out some of the interesting notes and stats to know before Long Beach State plays host to Hawai’i in the NCAA Tournament finals on Saturday night.
Fourth-time a charm
This is the third time this decade that the NCAA Tournament finals will be the fourth meeting of the season between the two teams. In the two previous occurrences — USC versus UC Irvine in 2012 and Loyola versus Lewis in 2015 — the team that won in the conference tournament meeting also won in the NCAA Tournament finals. Hawai’i defeated Long Beach State in five games in the Big West Tournament finals.
Home may not be the best
Long Beach State is attempting to become the fourth team in the rally scoring era to win the NCAA Tournament on its home court. Teams playing on their home court in the NCAA Tournament finals during the rally scoring era are 3-4, including Long Beach State beating UCLA at Pauley Pavilion last season.
Recent history favors Long Beach State
Long Beach State leads the all-time series against Hawai’i 45-42 and is 9-2 versus the Rainbow Warriors during the last four years.
No. 1 for a reason
If Hawai’i wins, it be the third consecutive year that the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed has won the NCAA championship.
Postseason road woes
Hawai’i enters the NCAA Tournament finals on a nine-match losing streak in road postseason matches dating back to 2004. The team’s last postseason road win came in 2002 when it beat Penn State in the NCAA Tournament semifinals. The Rainbow Warriors are 2-18 in road postseason matches — but Hawai’i was the lower seed in a majority of those matches.
van Tilburg finds gold vs. 49ers
Hawai’i outside attacker Stijn van Tilburg has at least 15 kills in six career matches against Long Beach State. The top performance for the All-American came in the most recent meeting as he had a match-high 25 kills and zero errors on a .543 attack percentage in the Big West Tournament finals win.
Long Beach serving specialist to watch
Carlos Rivera coming off the bench as a serving specialist has an ace and seven service errors on 18 serves in the three previous matches against Hawai’i. In addition, Rivera had an ace in the team’s semifinal victory against Pepperdine on Thursday.
Hawai’i serving specialist to watch
James Anastassiades as a serving specialist has an ace and three service errors on 17 serves in the three matches versus Long Beach State this season. Similar to Rivera, Anastassiades had an ace in his team’s NCAA Tournament semifinal win on Thursday.
Coaching milestone in reach
With a victory, Long Beach State coach Alan Knipe will join former UCLA coach Al States, former Loyola coach Shane Davis and former Ohio State coach Pete Hanson as the only coaches to win back-to-back NCAA championships.
Beating the West Coast back-to-back
If Long Beach State beats Hawai’i, it will become the fourth team since 1974 to win two matches against West Coast teams in a NCAA Tournament. The 49ers also would become the first West Coast team to accomplish the feat.
Secondary ticket market
The cheapest ticket to the NCAA Tournament finals that is available on the secondary ticket market Stubhub costs $175 as of Saturday morning. In addition, the most expensive ticket on Stubhub is going from $350. Both of these tickets are for seats in the student section.
Governor in attendance
Gov. David Ige announced Friday that he will be in attendance at the NCAA Tournament finals. The governor and his wife departed Hawaii on Thursday night and will return to the state on Monday following the match.
Time to tailgate
Long Beach State announced Friday that it will sponsor a tailgating event starting two hours before NCAA Tournament finals (5 p.m. CST) at Hammer Field located next the school’s athletic building. Admission is free and people in attendance will receive “Got Grit” t-shirt. The event also will feature a prematch speech from Knipe and a live video stream of the match for fans to watch if they do not have a ticket.
May the Fourth Be With Us
This NCAA Tournament finals will be played on the day that has become synonymous with “Star Wars” — May 4. When asked at the prematch news conference on Friday, Long Beach State opposite Kyle Ensing said his favorite “Star Wars” character was Darth Maul. In addition, Long Beach State setter Josh Tuaniga said he has not seen any of the “Star Wars” movies.