Kansas State vs. UC-Irvine - 3/22/19 NCAA Tournament First Round Pick, Odds, and Prediction
Kansas State vs. UC-Irvine
Friday, March 22, 2019 at 1:00 PM (SAP Center)
Kansas State Wildcats -5.5 -- O/U: 120
The UC-Irvine Anteaters and the Kansas State Wildcats meet in a NCAA tournament first round matchup in college basketball action from the SAP Center at San Jose on Friday afternoon.
The UC-Irvine Anteaters come into the NCAA tournament as a #13 seed, representing the Big West conference after finishing the regular season with a record of 30-5, including wins over Texas A&M and Saint Mary’s as well as losses to Butler, Utah State and Toledo. UC-Irvine then went 15-1 in the conference portion of their schedule, earning the top seed in the conference tournament, defeating UC-Riverside and Long Beach State before routing Cal State Fullerton in the conference championship game. Max Hazzard leads UC-Irvine in scoring with 12.2 points per game while Evan Leonard is 2nd with 11.1 points per game as UC-Irvine’s only other double-digit scorer this season. Eyassu Worku leads the Anteaters in assists with 2.7 assists per game and Jonathan Galloway leads UC-Irvine in rebounding with 7.7 rebounds per game this season. As a team, UC-Irvine is averaging 72.9 points per game on 45.9% shooting from the field, 36.1% from behind the arc and 69.6% from the foul line this season. The Anteaters are also solid on defense, allowing opponents to score just 63.3 points per game on 38% shooting from the field, the 5th-lowest field goal percentage against in the country this season.
The Kansas State Wildcats enter the tournament as a #4 seed, finishing the year with a 25-8 overall record, which included wins over Vanderbilt and Missouri as well as losses to Marquette and Tulsa. K-State went 14-4 in the conference play portion of their schedule, winning out on the top seed in the conference tournament thanks to a tiebreaker. The Wildcats took down TCU before falling to eventual conference champion Iowa state in the semifinals. Barry Brown Jr. leads Kansas State in scoring with 14.9 points per game while Dean Wade is 2nd in scoring and 1st in rebounding with 12.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. Kamau Stokes is 3rd in scoring and tops in assists with 10.8 points and 3.3 assists per game while Xavier Sneed is averaging 10.6 points per game this season. As a team, Kansas State is averaging 65.8 points per game on 43.1% shooting from the field, 33.6% from behind the arc and 66.4% from the foul line this season. The Wildcats are also elite defensively, sitting 3rd in the country in scoring defense, allowing opponents to score just 59.2 points per game this season.
UC-Irvine is 9-1-1 ATS in their last 11 games overall and 0-5-1 ATS in their last 6 games against the Big 12 while the under is 6-2 in their last 8 neutral site games. Kansas State is 13-4-1 ATS in their last 18 games overall and 10-3-1 ATS in their last 14 games against a team with a winning record while the under is 5-0 in their last 5 games against the Big West.
There’s no doubting that Kansas State is one of the elite defensive teams in the country and that UC-Irvine has their work cut out for themselves in this one. However, the Anteaters are likely to have a strong fanbase out for this one as the SAP Center is just a few hours away from UC-Irvine’s campus and quite frankly, UC-Irvine is a dangerous team to begin with. We saw the impact that the injuries for K-State have had with Cartier Diarra just coming back from a hand injury and Dean Wade possibly missing this game with a foot injury, and if they can’t go, I like the Anteaters chances at an upset here, but I’ll take the points just to be safe.