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UC Irvine will both be looking for its 31st win of the season when the team travels to the SAP Center at San Jose to take on the Kansas State Wildcats. UC Irvine enters this game with a 30-5 record after beating Cal State Fullerton in its last game. Meanwhile Kansas State enters this game with a 25-8 record after losing to Iowa State in its last game. Now, both teams will be looking to improve upon their respective records in this one.
UC Irvine Wins Big West Tournament
This season, UC Irvine has looked significantly better than it did last year as the team is currently 30-5 and won the automatic bid from its conference tournament. UC Irvine came came into this season with the expectations of competing in the Big West and the team looks like a serious sleeper to make the Sweet 16 in this year’s tournament. In the team’s last game, it was able to defeat Cal State Fullerton in the conference tournament by 28 points. In that game, UC Irvine’s offense was solid as the team scored 92 points on better than 61% shooting from the floor. However, this is definitely a step up in competition and one will have to wait and see if UC Irvine is up to the challenge.
No look ➡️ SPLASH!!!!!!#StillHungry
— UCI M Basketball (@UCImbb) March 17, 2019
The UC Irvine Anteaters are led by junior guard Max Hazzard who has been a nice role player on last year’s team. Last season, Hazzard averaged 8.4 points per game along with 2.0 rebounds. However, he has managed to duplicate last year’s excellence this season as he is currently leading the team in scoring with 12.5 points per game along with 2.2 assists. He is also one of the only two players on the team averaging more than ten points per game so he will need to play really well if the team plans on covering this spread.
Coach Turner expressed that he expects guard Eyassu Worku to be fully ready for this game after missing the previous five games with a leg injury.
“He is going to play, assuming nothing unusual happens in practice today. You’ll see him out there practicing. He practiced hard all week, and he’s excited and raring to go. And I’m pleased that we took care of him the way we did and we now have him back. That helps us,” Turner said.
Kansas State Could Be Without A Star Player
This season, the Kansas State Wildcats were expected to return to the NCAA tournament and to maybe make a deeper run than the team did last season. So far this season, Kansas State has looked remarkable as the team enters the NCAA tournament with a 25-8 record and a four seed. However, despite going 14-4 in conference play this season, the team was beaten by Iowa State in the semifinals of its conference tournament. Hopefully, the Wildcats will be able to rally quickly for a potential tournament run.
The Kansas State Wildcats are led by senior forward Dean Wade who was a huge factor on last year’s team. Last season, Wade was extremely solid as he averaged 16.2 points per game along with 6.2 rebounds. However, he has managed to play well once again this season as he is currently second on the team in scoring with 12.9 points per game and 6.2 rebounds. However, Wade did not play in the team’s conference tournament and is also out for this game with a foot injury.
Coach Weber expressed how important Wade is to the team but believes that the team will be able to overcome his absence.
“He just does so much. If you studied his stats, he’s leading rebounder, he’s probably the best passing big guy in the country. We could run our offense through him and he would get so much attention. When he’s not out there, you gotta do other things, and that’s why I give our guys credit, because they’ve been able to improvise, our coaches have done a great job figuring out new game plans, ways to score,” Weber said.
- Wildcats are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 non-conference games.
- Anteaters are 6-0-1 ATS in their last 7 games following a straight up win of more than 20 points.
- Anteaters are 9-1-1 ATS in their last 11 games following a straight up win.
- Anteaters are 9-1-1 ATS in their last 11 games overall.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Although Kansas State is the better team, I think that UC Irvine is getting too many points in this one. Kansas State is an extremely solid team but one of its best players might not play in this game so one has to be a bit skeptical about this team’s ability to cover point spreads of this magnitude on a neutral site. The Wildcats already have serious issues scoring points as is so this injury could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Give me the underdog plus the points in this one.
Prediction: UC Irvine +4.5
Full-Game Total Pick
Both teams have the ability to score points but I think that their respective defenses are elite. Both teams are giving up less than 64 points per game this season as they each possess top-17 defenses in all of college basketball. As a result, I expect points to come at a premium in this one. Furthermore, Wade’s injury will drastically affect Kansas State’s ability to score points so this game will probably be played in the 110s. Give me the under as a result.
Prediction: Under 119.5