UC Irvine got a taste last year with their run to the finals here. They come back as a much better team, and can eclipse 30 victories for the first time in school history with a run to the Big Dance this week. I went 8-2 in this league for the season (Thanks Cal St. Northridge!) Both ATS losses were going up against UC Irvine with a bunch of points in my pocket. It’s tough to know this before all the games are played, but that turned out to be a bad strategy this season, with Irvine winning 60% ATS for the year.
When and Where: March 14th-16th at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California
Defending Champ: Cal State Fullerton Titans
Who’s Good: UC Irvine
Who’s Sneaky: Santa Barbara, UC Fullerton
Who Stinks Out Loud: Cal Poly. The Mustangs only managed to get six wins all season and don’t get to go to Anaheim.
Coolest Team Nickname: This league kind of has a little bit of everything I’ve already used. Another set of Higlanders, Matadors, and yet another way to say “Cowboys” in Spanish. I don’t love giving one team all the shine but, gotta give Irvine props for never changing from Anteaters to something more fierce.
Seeding and rules: Top eight teams get in. Full reseeding after the quarterfinals, everything played on a neutral court.
Multi-Bid League: We’re done with those, everything is a one-bid from here on out.
Breakdown: I honestly should just copy and paste everything I wrote about the WAC and replace the names. UC Irvine is just the BW’s version of New Mexico State:
Only lost one conference game
Double digit winning streak to close the season
Prohibitive tourney favorite
Projected 12/13 seed
Easy Path to the finals
My Numbers love them
My Pick(s): Again, “second verse, same as the first.” The motivation of a team who needs the three wins and a trophy to get in, coupled with their dominance over the league this season has me laying the juice again (as in 0.75 units to win 0.5 units). Additionally, While this is also true for three other teams in the conference , the arena is right in town, just 25 minutes up the I-5 from the Anteaters’ campus.
UC Irvine -150 (o.75x) 5Dimes