Official watch parties will be held at seven locations in Orange County and three in Los Angeles County Sunday evening for TBS’ 6:40 p.m. telecast of UC Irvine’s first NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament second-round game.
The Orange County watch parties will be at:
— UC Irvine’s Newkirk Alumni Center, 450 Alumni Court, Irvine;
— Dave & Buster’s, 661 Spectrum Center Drive, Irvine;
— Classic Q, 4251 MacArthur Blvd., Newport Beach;
— Mutt Lynch’s, 2300 W. Oceanfront, Newport Beach;
— Newport Rib Company, 2196 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa;
— Original Pizza II, 2675 Irvine Ave., Costa Mesa.
— Tony Pepperoni Pizzeria, 27822 Aliso Creek Road, Aliso Viejo.
The Los Angeles County watch parties will be at:
— The Garage, 3387 Motor Ave., Palms;
— Legends, 5236 E. Second St., Long Beach; and
— Buffalo Wild Wings, 4678 Daneland St., Lakewood.
The Newkirk Alumni Center party is billed as “a big basketball pizza party,” with food and drinks provided.
Parking may be impacted due to Bren Events Center activities. Carpooling is “highly recommended.” Doors will open at 6 p.m.
The 13th-seeded Anteaters were the lowest-seeded team to win in the first round of the 2019 tournament, upsetting fifth-seeded Kansas State, 70-64, overcoming a 10-point first-half deficit, Friday at SAP Center in San Jose.
UC Irvine’s second-round opponent, 12th-seeded Oregon, also was an upset winner Friday, defeating fifth-seeded Wisconsin, 72-54, Friday, also at the SAP Center, the site of Sunday’s South Region game.
The Anteaters and Ducks were among four teams seeded 12th or higher to advance to the second round.
UC Irvine (31-5) enters Sunday’s game with a school-record 17-game winning streak, four games longer than the previous record, set in the 2000-01 season. Its last loss was on Jan. 16 to Long Beach State, 80-70.
The Anteaters went on to defeat the 49ers, 82-80, in a regular-season game Feb. 2, and 75-67, March 15 in a Big West Conference Tournament semifinal as part of its school-record 31 victories, three more than the previous record, set during the 2015-16 season.
Oddsmakers have made UC Irvine a five-point underdog. They were 4 1/2-point underdogs against Kansas State. The ABC News-owned data prediction website FiveThirtyEight.com gives the Anteaters a 31 percent chance of winning. It had given UC Irvine a 23 percent chance of defeating the Wildcats.
Former President Barack Obama predicted first-round victories by both the Anteaters and Oregon in the bracket he released last week. He also predicted a second-round victory by the Ducks.
“We’re going to have to play a special game to be effective,” UC Irvine coach Russell Turner said. “But we did that (Friday) against a team that’s actually a better-ranked defense than Oregon’s.”
The Ducks are allowing 62.7 points per game, 14th among Division I teams. (Kansas State is fourth, allowing 59.6 points per game.)
Oregon is among the more unlikely teams in the NCAA Tournament. The Ducks were 15-12 on Feb. 23 and 10th in the Pac-12 Conference following a 90-83 loss to UCLA where they allowed 62 points in the second half.
Oregon has won all nine of its games since then, holding eight of its opponents to less than 62 points, improving to 24-12.
The Ducks were seeded sixth in the Pac-12 Conference Tournament and were not among the four teams receiving first-round byes. They won four games in four days, including victories over the top three seeds. Oregon defeated the conference’s regular-season champion, Washington, 68-48, in the conference tournament final.
During the nine-game winning streak, the Ducks are outscoring their opponents 72.0-54.2, with opponents shooting 34.5 percent from the field and making 22.6 percent of their 3-point shots.
Oregon’s recent defensive surge can be directly linked with the switch to a starting lineup with four players who are 6-feet-9 inches tall.
“They’ve got size and length more like an NBA team than a typical college team,” Turner said. “They challenge each team they face in multiple different ways. They don’t just challenge you with the way they play man-to-man, they adjust to zone. Sometimes they make one thing look like the other. They often surprise teams with traps.”
The Ducks’ fifth starter is 6-feet-2-inch junior guard Payton Pritchard, who is averaging 16.1 points and 5.2 assists during the winning streak and was selected as the most outstanding player in the Pac-12 Tournament.
“He’s not only scored at a high level, but he’s the one that gets easy shots for all of his teammates,” Turner said. “And he’s also an incredible game manager … for them in the run that they’ve had.”
This is the tournament’s first matchup between 12th and 13th seeds since 2013, when 13th-seeded La Salle defeated 12th-seeded Mississippi, 76-74, to advance to a Sweet 16 game against Wichita State, a 72-58 winner in their West Region semifinal.
The winner will advance to face the winner of Sunday’s game between top-seeded Virginia and ninth-seeded Oklahoma in a South Region semifinal Thursday at Louisville, Kentucky.
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