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Defensive Battle on Tap Between UC Irvine and Kansas State

Kansas State forward Xavier Sneed (20) spins away from Iowa State guard Talen Horton-Tucker (11) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinals of the Big 12 Conference tournament in Kansas City, Mo.,

Two of the top 17 scoring defenses in the country will meet in the first round of the NCAA Tournament when No. 13 UC Irvine and No. 4 Kansas State hook up at the SAP Center in San Jose. The Wildcats opened as 4.5-point favorites against the Big West champion Anteaters, who will travel up the Pacific coast for this game. The total opened at 119.

UC Irvine vs Kansas State Game Center

No. 4 vs No. 13 March Madness History

Standout Stats

  • This is just UC Irvine’s second trip to the NCAA Tournament. They lost 57-55 to Louisville as the No. 13 seed in 2015.
  • Kansas State has lost three of its last four first-round games in the tournament, including its last game as the No. 4 seed, a 63-61 loss to La Salle in 2013. The Wildcats won as the No. 9 seed vs Creighton in Round 1 last year.
  • UC Irvine went 18-1 SU and 12-6-1 ATS in conference play. The Anteaters show up at No. 263 on the strength of schedule rankings. Meanwhile, Kansas State was 15-5 SU and 14-6 ATS in conference play with the No. 30 strength of schedule.
  • The OVER has hit in four of UC Irvine’s last five games with an average combined score of 149.4. The opposition scored 64 points or more in each of those four OVERs.
  • The UNDER has hit in six of Kansas State’s last eight games with an average combined score of 122.
  • UC Irvine is No. 273 in terms of possessions per game with 69.1 while Kansas State is No. 343 for the 11th-lowest number of possessions per game at 66.2. With that, we should expect a slow pace of play in this game, leading to a lower than normal point total for at least one side.
  • The No. 13 seed is 10-6 ATS in the last four years at the NCAA Tournament, including 2-2 SU and 4-0 ATS last year.

My Best Bet For UC Irvine vs Kansas State

Kansas State OVER 61.5 Points

The Wildcats scored more than 61.5 points in 22 of their 33 games this season, including in eight of their 12 non-conference games. Kansas State is scoring an average of 66.1 points per game over its last 10 games and that’s why I think it will get over this mark against a Big West opponent in a 4 vs 13 matchup.

While UC Irvine might have excellent defensive stats, I have a hard time believing it’s in the same competitive bracket as Kansas State. I’m backing the Big 12 here.