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Mallard Madness: Do the Anteaters have another upset in them?

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How sweet a sweet 16 would be!

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Kansas State vs UC Irvine Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

This Sunday at 6:40 PM PT on TBS, the 13-seed UC Irvine Anteaters will play against the Mighty Ducks of Oregon!

Will the Anteaters improve upon their school-record winning streak of 17 games?

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Kansas State vs UC Irvine Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

SEASON THUS FAR

RECORD: 31-5, 15-1

BEST WINS: @ Saint Mary’s, Montana, Kansas State

WORST LOSSES: @ Butler, @ Pacific, Long Beach State

COMMON OPPONENT: none

LAST 5 GAMES:

  • W (3/9) @ CSUN, 86-74
  • W (3/14) Big West Tourney, UC Riverside, 63-44
  • W (3/15) Big West Tourney, Long Beach State, 75-67
  • W (3/16) Big West Tourney, Cal State Fullerton, 92-64
  • W (3/22) First Round, Kansas State, 70-64

SEASON SUMMARY: The UC Irvine Anteaters started the season as UC Irvine Globetrotters, traveling to Seoul, Korea to take part in the Asia Pacific University Basketball Challenge. The Anteaters won their first four games against South Korea, Japan, Philippines and Chinese Taipei, but fell to Russia in a 92-91 finale that took place at 1:30 AM Pacific Time.

UC Irvine won their next seven games, eventually losing to Toledo in the Gulf Coast Showcase Championship game. Their win over Saint Mary’s looks much more impressive now that the Gaels are WCC Tournament Champions, and even their loss against Utah State - another NCAA Tournament team - has aged rather well.

After four straight wins, UC Irvine suffered back-to-back losses against two low-tier teams, Butler (16-17) and Pacific (14-18). The Anteaters won 16 of their final 17 regular season conference games, their lone loss coming against Long Beach State (who they would later defeat in the Big West Tournament.) They clinched their conference regular season championship against UC Riverside on March 2nd.

UC Irvine has already proven to be an impressive tournament team by winning the Big West Tourney and upsetting the 4-seeded Kansas State Wildcats in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament. The Anteaters took down #8 seed UC Riverside, #5 seed Long Beach State and then #3 seed Cal State Fullerton to claim the Big West Tournament Championship.

STAT COMPARISON

  • ANTEATERS score 72.8 PPG
  • DUCKS allow 62.7
  • ANTEATERS shoot .459% from the floor
  • DUCKS allow .399%
  • ANTEATERS shoot .362% from three
  • DUCKS allow .291%
  • ANTEATERS average 40.1 rebounds
  • DUCKS allow 32.8
  • ANTEATERS allow 63.3 PPG
  • DUCKS score 70.5
  • ANTEATERS allow .380% from the floor
  • DUCKS shoot .452%
  • ANTEATERS allow .330% from three
  • DUCKS shoot .346%
  • ANTEATERS allow 33.0 rebounds
  • DUCKS average 34.4
  • ANTEATERS average 13.2 assists/ 11.8 turnovers

PLAYERS TO WATCH FOR

#2 Max Hazzard

6’0, Guard, rJunior

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Kansas State vs UC Irvine Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

(.416 FG% - .397 3PT% - .779 FT% - 12.7 PPG - 2.0 REB)

Max Hazzard is heating up at the perfect time. He’s leading his team with 12.7 points per game but has scored more than thirteen in his last six, and when the competition has stepped up so has Hazzard’s game, scoring 23 and 19 against Cal State Fullerton and Kansas State, respectively.

Also, Max Hazzard is the coolest action hero name that I’ve ever heard. So, he’s got that going for him.


#14 Evan Leonard

6’1, Guard, Junior

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Kansas State vs UC Irvine Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

(.444 FG% - .412 3PT% - .859 FT% - 11.3 PPG - 2.6 REB)

The junior guard has been a consistent scorer for the Anteaters and could help to stabilize the attack against this hungry Duck defense. If Leonard can provide a presence away from the paint, then UC Irvine will have an easier time dealing with Oregon’s size.


#3 Robert Cartwright

6’2, Guard, Graduate Student

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Kansas State vs UC Irvine Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

(.382 FG% - .333 3PT% - .810 FT% - 6.9 PPG - 2.3 REB)

Cartwright will have a tough time making his presence known on the stat sheet, but a veteran presence is always welcome and he’s scored in double digits in his last three games.


#5 Jonathan Galloway

6’10, Forward, Graduate Student

NCAA Basketball: Big West Conference Championship-Long Beach State 49ers vs. UC Irvine Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

(.615 FG% - .000 3PT% - .602 FT% - 6.9 PPG - 7.8 REB)

Last season, Galloway was named the Big West Conference’s Best Defensive player. At 6-foor-10, the forward will do the lion’s share of work against Oregon’s Tall Firs. He currently is averaging .615% from the floor and will need to have a big day if the Anteaters want to pull off back-to-back upsets.


#42 Tommy Rutherford

6’8, Forward, Junior

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Kansas State vs UC Irvine Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

(.522 FG% - .364 3PT% - .703 FT% - 6.6 PPG - 4.3 REB)

Another big man for the Anteaters. Rutherford can’t afford to be timid going for rebounds or making the quick shot under the hoop.


PANIC LEVEL

This 12 vs 13 seed battle could prove more competitive than the Ducks’ first round against Wisconsin. The Anteaters are well coached, on a roll and are relatively deep. They don’t have the height or the raw skill that Oregon has, but UC Irvine should be able to keep up with the Ducks for awhile if they can keep their composure and force Oregon to shoot the three.

7 out of 12 Bill Waltons

SCORE PREDICTION

DUCKS 70 - ANTEATERS 58