UC Irvine Begins First Dance With Louisville In Seattle
2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Bracket
2014-15 Men's Basketball Release No. 19
Making its inaugural appearance in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship, UC Irvine will face Louisville in a second round matchup at Key Arena in Seattle, Wash. on Friday, March 20. Tip-time is 1:10 p.m. (PT) on TBS.
UCI earned the No. 13 seed in the East Region. The fourth-seeded Cardinals are familiar with the Big West, having played CSUN and Long Beach State earlier this season.
The Anteaters earned the Big West automatic bid to the NCAA’s after achieving their first conference tournament championship with Saturday night’s 67-58 victory over Hawai‘i. Since gaining Division I status July 1, 1977, UCI broke through after coming up short in four previous trips to the Big West Tournament finals (1988, 1994, 2008 and 2013).
UCI, seeded No. 3 in the conference tournament, toppled No. 6 UC Riverside and No. 2 UC Santa Barbara in the first two rounds before knocking off the fifth-seeded Rainbow Warriors before 5,463 at Honda Center.
Senior Will Davis II, the Big West Tournament MVP, became the first player in the 40-year history of the event to record three double-doubles in a tournament. The forward averaged 15.0 points and 11.7 rebounds while shooting 66.7 percent from the field. He has seven double-doubles this season and 16 in his career.
Sophomore Luke Nelson also was selected to the all-tournament team after averaging 15.0 points. He notched 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting with two rebounds, two assistant and two steals in the final.
Fifth year head coach Russell Turner brings his Anteaters to the Emerald City with a 21-12 record. His teams have recorded three consecutive 20-win campaigns and have won 65 games over the last three seasons.
The winner of UCI-Louisville will play the winner of No. 5 seed Northern Iowa and No. 12 seed Wyoming on Sunday, March 22 in the Third Round.
BIG WEST AT A GLANCE
‘EATERS TAKE FIRST DANCE: In its 38th season as a member of Division I, UC Irvine is finally going dancing. The Anteaters, which joined the Pacific Coast Athletic Association (later named the Big West Conference) on July 1, 1977 and the Division I ranks, have never competed in the NCAA Tournament. But that all changed last Saturday night when third-seeded UCI defeated fifth-seeded Hawai‘i in the championship game of the Big West Tournament to earn the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA’s. UCI had come up short in the conference tournament finals in four previous trips – 1988, 1994, 2008 and 2013.
JOINING THE PARTY: UCI becomes the seventh current Big West member to have experienced the NCAA Tournament. Cal Poly, Cal State Fullerton, CSUN, Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara all have represented the Big West in the NCAA’s recently. Hawai‘i, which joined the conference in 2012, also competed in the national tournament as a member of the Western Athletic Conference as recently as 2002.
UC DAVIS MAKES FIRST POSTSEASON TRIP: Big West regular season champion UC Davis is making its first postseason appearance, playing Stanford in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) on Tuesday. The Aggies, which own Division I school records in wins both overall (25) and conference (14), and finished with a unblemished 14-0 home court record, also lead the NCAA in win differential (+16) from last season.
UC SANTA BARBARA KEEPS PLAYING: UC Santa Barbara accepted an invitation to compete in the College Basketball Invitational. The Gauchos need one win to secure a 20-win campaign for the fifth time in the last nine seasons under head coach Bob Williams.
NCAA TOURNEY TIDBITS
• The Big West is seeking a victory in the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year. In 2014, Cal Poly knocked off Texas Southern in a First Four game after becoming the first No. 7 seed to win the Big West Tournament. The Mustangs lost to top-seeded Wichita State in the Second Round.
• UC Irvine is the first Big West team to be tabbed a No. 13 seed since former member Pacific earned that spot in the bracket in 2006. The number has not been friendly to the league historically. Big West representatives are 0-5 in opening round games on that seed line – New Mexico State (1994), Long Beach State (1995), Pacific (1997, 2006), and Utah State (1998) .
• This is the first meeting between a Big West school and Louisvillle in the NCAA Tournament. The last time a Big West team competed in Seattle, the 1991 UNLV team won the West Regional and advanced to the Final Four.
First Postseason: UC Davis is making its first postseason as a Division I program when it takes the court at Stanford in Tuesday’s first round of the National Invitation Tournament. The Aggies are attempting to become the first Big West team to win an NIT game since Cal State Fullerton knocked off Oregon State and San Francisco in 2005.
Undefeated: The Aggies finished their home slate undefeated at 14-0, and became the first Big West team since Long Beach State (12-0) in 2011-12 to accomplish the feat.
Three-Point Ace: Senior Corey Hawkins has hit a career-best 77 three-pointers this year, but most impressively leads the NCAA in three-point field goal percentage. He is hitting at an incredible 49.0 percent (77 of 157) clip.
Ritchart Enters Top 10: With 27 points in two Big West Tournament games, senior Josh Ritchart entered the UC Davis career top 10 with 1,328 as he surpassed Joe Harden (1,326, 2008-11) for the No. 10 slot.
Roadie: UC Davis leads the Big West with 10 road wins.
Lucky Three: UC Irvine earned its first Big West Tournament championship and NCAA Tournament berth as a “true” number three seed for the first time in 33 appearances. The Anteaters were the No. 3 seed from the Western Division in 1998 and 2000 back when the Big West featured a two-division setup.
Consistency: UCI has strung together three consecutive 20-win campaigns for head coach Russell Turner, and his teams have won 65 games during that span.
Where There’s A Will...: Senior Will Davis II became the first player in Big West Tournament history to register three straight double-doubles en route to Most Valuable Player honors. He averaged 15.0 points and 11.7 rebounds during the tournament.
Forever Young: With 14 assists in three tournament games, junior point guard Alex Young became the fourth player in Anteater history to surpass the 400 career assist mark. He enters the NCAA Tournament with 405, just seven short of Jerry Green (412, 1998-2002) for third in school history.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Tough Loss: UC Santa Barbara lost a heartbreaker in overtime to UC Irvine in the Big West Tournament semifinals, ending a three-game streak of semifinal victories. Still, the Gauchos received an invite to compete in the College Basketball Invitational. It is the seventh postseason appearance for UCSB in the 17-year tenure of Bob Williams.
Williams No. 3 On Two Lists: Williams ranks No. 3 in Big West career history in both overall wins (288) and conference victories (170).
Big Al And The Double-Double: Senior Alan Williams, the NCAA’s Division I leader with 49 career double-doubles, has recorded a double-double in five of the last six games.
More On Big Al: With 1,115 career rebounds, Williams is tied for No. 2 in Big West annals with Cal State Fullerton’s Tony Neal (1981-85).
Vincent Chases Frosh Record: Gabe Vincent has made 54 three-pointers, the second-most by a freshman in UCSB history. The school freshman record is 58.