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College hoops action on Thursday and we will see the Cal-Riverside Hilanders tangle with the UC Irvine Anteaters in the opening round of the Big West Tournament. This game will take place at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California with a start time of 5:30 pm ET.
The Anteaters nabbed wins in both regular-season meetings. UC Irvine won the regular season title in the Big West with a 15-1 mark, while the Highlanders were 4-12 in league play.
Riversides Ends Regular Season On A High Note
The Riverside Highlanders started league play at 0-3, before ripping off to wins in a row, but then it all fell apart as they went just 2-9 the rest of the way. The Highlanders are now at 10-22 on the year overall and they have been ranked by KenPom at 319th in the nation while taking on the 237th rated schedule. They do come in off a nice 71-70 road win over UC Davis, which snapped a five-game slide they were on.
Riverside shot 52.9% from the field overall, including 47.8% (11/23) from long range in the contest, but it will not be that easy against this tough defense. Leading their attack was Dikymbe Martin, who had 17 points. The defense did struggle as they allowed the Aggies to hit 52.7% of their shots from the field, including 38.9% of their shots from long range. The defense will have to play better in this one. The Highlanders have averaged 564.8 ppg and they have allowed 72.1 ppg in league play this year.
The Highlanders enter this game ranked 321st in the nation in scoring at 65.9 ppg, while also ranking 161st in shooting (44.8%), 32nd in three-point shooting (38.0%) and 229th in free throw shooting (69.0%). On defense, they are 126th in points allowed, giving up 69.2 ppg, while also ranking 324th in defensive FG% (46.8%) and 264th in three-point defense (35.8%).
Anteaters Push Win Streak To 13
The UC Irvine Anteaters have had a heck of a year. They come in at27-5 overall, including 15-1 in league play and they have won their last 13 games in a row. Despite their record, the Anteaters are from the Big West and will most likely need to win the conference tournament in order to get into the NCAA Tournament. Irvine s ranked 83rd by KenPom and they have faced the 235th schedule in the land, while their Net Ranking is 76.
The Anteaters enter this contest off an 86-74 home win over CS Northridge to complete the season sweep of the Matadors. Their first win over Northridge started the winning streak. Irvine struggled from long range in the win as they hit just 30.8% (8/26) of their shots from deep, but they also hit 46.6% of their shots overall and committed just five turnovers. The Matadors hit 41.7% (5.12) of their shots from long range, but they also hit just 39.1% of their shots from the field overall. This is a complete team at both ends of the court. Leading their attack in the win was Evan Leonard (11.0 ppg), who had 17. The Anteaters won the regular season title by five games and they averaged 74.7 ppg and allowed 63.1 ppg in their league games this year.
"He's embodied the spirit of this team. Our identity is his identity. Our identity is a selfless group as a defensive oriented team that is committed and has great integrity."
— UCI M Basketball (@UCImbb) March 10, 2019
The Anteaters enter this game ranked 178th in the nation in scoring at 72.5 ppg, while also ranking 120th in shooting (45.5%), 110th in three-point shooting (35.8%) and 253rd in free throw shooting (68.6). On defense, they are 21st in points allowed, giving up 63.8 ppg, while also ranking 5th in defensive FG% (38.0%) and 161st in three-point defense (33.9%).
UC Irvine is:
- 9-1-1 ATS in their last 11 games following a straight up win.
- 15-5-1 ATS in their last 21 games vs. a team with a winning % below .400
UC Riverside is:
- 3-8 ATS in their last 11 vs. the Big West.
- 4-14 ATS in their last 18 games following a straight up win
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I like the Anteaters top win this one easily. They have been the best team in the league all year and they have been rolling of late as they have won their last 13 games in a row. They won the first meeting by these teams, but the 2nd win was by 21 points. We also note that four of their last five wins have all been by 16 points or more. Take the Anteaters to win this one by at least 17.
Prediction: UC Irvine -14.5
Full-Game Total Pick
I like the Anteaters to win this one easily and I will also look for it to be a low-scoring game. The Riverside offense has not been good at all this year and they did score just 47 points in the last meeting between these teams, while Irvine has allowed just 57.6 ppg over their last five games. The Irvine offense is very average and the Highlanders have allowed just 69.2 ppg on the year. The Under is Under is 20-9-1 in UC Irvine’s last 30 vs. a team with a losing straight up record. 70-53 sounds about right for this one.
Prediction: Under 127.5