UC Irvine received the No. 13 seed in the South Region Sunday and will face fourth-seeded Kansas State on Friday in the first round of the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament in San Jose.
Kansas State (25-8) was the regular-season co-champion of the Big 12 Conference and was upset by Iowa State, 63-59, in the semifinals of the conference tournament Friday night.
UC Irvine qualified for the tournament for the second time with a 92-64 victory over Cal State Fullerton in the Big West Conference Tournament final Saturday night, extending a school-record winning streak to 16 games and improving to 30-5, increasing its school record for victories in a season.
The Anteaters are among five NCAA Division I teams with 30 or more victories, along with Houston, Gonzaga, Buffalo and New Mexico State. Their .857 winning percentage is 10th in Division I.
“I don’t think anyone is going to take us lightly when we have 30 wins next to our name,” UC Irvine coach Russell Turner said after Saturday’s game. “This team has special qualities.”
The Anteaters roster includes four players whose fathers or grandfathers played in the NBA.
Redshirt junior guard Max Hazzard is a grandson of the late Walt Hazzard, who played 10 seasons in the NBA, including the first three with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Redshirt freshman forward Collin Welp’s late father Chris played three seasons in the NBA after being Washington’s career scoring leader. Following his NBA career, the elder Welp played seven seasons in Germany and one each in Greece and Italy. He died in 2015 at the age of 51 from an apparent heart attack.
Redshirt senior guard Spencer Rivers is a son of Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who played 13 seasons in the NBA. Freshman forward JC Butler is a son of Caron Butler, who played 14 seasons in the NBA, including one with the Lakers and two with the Clippers.
UC Irvine’s other NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament appearance was in 2015 when it was the 13th seed in the East Regional and lost to fourth-seeded Louisville, 57-55, in a game the Anteaters led in the final minute.
UC Irvine opened in 1965 and began competing on the Division I level in 1977. It twice qualified for the Division II tournament.
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