Official watch parties for TBS’ 11 a.m. telecast of Friday’s UC Irvine-Kansas State NCAA men’s basketball tournament game will be held at nine locations in Orange County and five in Los Angeles County.
The Orange County watch parties will be at:
— UC Irvine’s Newkirk Alumni Center, 450 Alumni Court, Irvine;
— Anthill Pub & Grille, 215 Pereira Drive, Irvine;
— Buffalo Wild Wings, 14110 Culver Drive, Irvine;
— Dave & Buster’s, 661 Spectrum Center Drive, Irvine;
— University Club, 801 E. Peltason Drive, Irvine;
— The Classic Q, 4251 MacArthur Blvd., Newport Beach;
— Nobu Newport Beach, 3450 Via Oporto, Newport Beach;
— Newport Rib Company, 2196 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa; and
— Original Pizza II, 2675 Irvine Ave., Costa Mesa.
The Los Angeles County watch parties will be at:
— The Garage on Motor Ave, 3387 Motor Ave., Palms;
— Golden Road Brewing, 5410 W. San Fernando Road, Atwater Village;
— Shin Beijing, 3101 W. Olympic Blvd., Koreatown;
— Ballast Point, 110 N. Marina Drive, Long Beach; and
— Innovation Brew Works, 5650 W. Temple Ave., Pomona.
Official watch parties are also planned for Riverside, San Diego, New York City, Washington, D.C. and Boston.
The Anteaters 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 their school-record winning streak to 16 games and improving to 30-5, increasing its school record for victories in a season.
“We’ve been close to making it this far a few times, but we accept that it’s hard to get here and that’s one of the things that makes it so satisfying, not just for our players but for our fans and our community,” UC Irvine coach Russell Turner said.
In a conference that has only been represented in the NCAA tournament by the conference tournament champion each year since 2006, the Anteaters have been one victory away from advancing to the tournament six times, including in 2017 and 2018.
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.
The Anteaters are 4 1/2-point underdogs to the Wildcats (25-8). The ABC News-owned data prediction website FiveThirtyEight.com gives UC Irvine a 23 percent chance of winning. Among participants in ESPN’s Tournament Challenge, 21.4 percent picked the Anteaters to win.
Former President Barack Obama is the highest-profile person to predict a UC Irvine victory.
History is against the Anteaters. The No. 13 seed is 28-110, including losses by both No. 13 seeds in action Thursday, Northeastern and Vermont, since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985. Two of the No. 13 seeds in the 2018 tournament won their first-round games, Buffalo and Marshall.
Regardless of how it fares on the court, UC Irvine can claim two victories.
The Anteaters reached the Elite Eight in the tournament bracket prepared by Robert Kelchen, an assistant professor of higher education at Seton Hall University, with the winner of each game based on the university’s lowest net price of attendance, which is defined as the total cost of attendance less all grant aid received.
UC Irvine’s mascot, Peter the Anteater, was chosen as the tournament’s best mascot by Nick O’Malley, a producer with the New England-based website MassLive.
“The great college mascots are the ones that are unique, weird and clever — and there’s something wonderful about having a ridiculous animal like an Anteater representing your team,” O’Malley wrote. “What’s more, the mascot name rhymes.”
The idea for the Anteater mascot came from Pat Glasgow and Bob Ernst, two water polo players, who were inspired by the anteater in the comic strip “B.C.”
Glasgow, Ernst and fellow student Schuyler Hadley Bassett organized a campaign for the Anteater, which was elected as the official UC Irvine mascot on Nov. 30, 1965 with 559 votes, beating such alternatives as Seahawks, Bison and “none of these.”
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