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Big West preview: UC Irvine should return to NCAA tournament

UC Irvine center Mamadou Ndiaye and the Anteaters were a possession away from upsetting Louisville in the 2015 NCAA tournament. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

UC Davis won the regular-season title a year ago, but coach Jim Les and the Aggies lost the Big West Player of the Year, Corey Hawkins, to graduation and should take a significant step back. Despite losing a couple of starters, UC Irvine will be the preseason favorite, although the Anteaters should have some competition from the likes of Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara.