Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Photo via Wikimedia Commons

UC Irvine will make its debut in the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament Friday against Louisville in Seattle.

The Anteaters (21-12) received the 13th seed in the East Regional and the Cardinals (24-8) the fourth seed as the tournament brackets were unveiled. Since the NCAA tournament field was expanded to 64 teams in 1985, the 13th seed is 25-95 against the fourth seed, a .208 winning percentage.

The ESPN-affiliated data prediction website FiveThirtyEight.com gives UC Irvine a 25 percent chance of defeating Louisville.

The game will be televised by TBS.

The Anteaters qualified for the tournament for the first time by defeating Hawaii, 67-58, Saturday night, in the Big West Conference Tournament championship game.

“I’m really satisfied and excited for our program and the UCI community to have this experience,” UC Irvine coach Russell Turner said after Saturday’s game.

“Our players have all been recruited here to leave a mark on the community and tonight we did that. Winning changes people, it can change schools and that’s what we hope to do and have a positive impact.”

The Anteaters had an 0-4 record in the finals of the Big West Conference tournament before Saturday’s victory.

UC Irvine was founded in 1965 and began competing on the Division I level in 1977. It twice qualified for the Division II tournament.

—Staff and wire reports

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