UC Irvine vs Hawaii Odds & Prediction: Bet This Late-Night Under

UC Irvine vs Hawaii Odds & Prediction: Bet This Late-Night Under article feature image

Pictured: UC Irvine Anteaters guard Dawson Baker. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

UC Irvine vs Hawaii Odds

Saturday, Feb. 25
10 p.m. ET
UC Irvine Odds
-110o / -110u
Hawaii Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via BetRivers. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Hawaii had an outside shot at winning the Big West regular season title before melting down late against UC Riverside on Thursday. Kamaka Hepa had free throws to tie the game at the end of regulation, but missed the front end of a one-and-one.

The Rainbow Warriors will look to bounce back against UC Irvine, although the Anteaters have established themselves as the class of the conference.

However, it's never easy to play on the island.

UC Irvine Anteaters

Behind Dawson Baker, the Anteaters are the best ball-handling and interior-scoring offense in the Big West.

Baker has an innate ability to get into the paint (6.5 paint PPG at 56.8% shooting) with a solid touch around the rim. His driving ability has him in the running for All-Big West.

Baker is a creative scorer in the painted area, combining finishes like this …

DAWSON BAKER…STOP IT! 🥵🥵🥵#StillHungry | #DefendTheBrenpic.twitter.com/EWXC6WkXBG

— UCI Men's Basketball (@UCImbb) January 12, 2023

with floaters like this …

UC Irvine takes a late lead over No. 24 San Diego State!

Dawson Baker with the clutch floater.pic.twitter.com/QazH3hRCNi

— Heat Check CBB (@HeatCheckCBB) November 30, 2022

Behind Baker, Irvine loves to run the floor and is also the best rim-pressuring team in the conference. The Anteaters attack downhill and few teams have been able to stop them.

However, Irvine's best feature is its two-way play. The Anteaters lead the Big West in 2-point shooting allowed as seven-footer Bent Leuchten spearheads an interior defense that ranks above the 75th percentile in post-up (.776) and roll-man (.864) PPP allowed.

The Anteaters are coming off a tough home loss to UCSD. The Tritons dropped 99 points by shooting over the top and finished 15-for-36 from 3. However, ShotQuality graded that game as a UC Irvine analytical win, showing UCSD won that game via hot shooting.

Image credit: ShotQuality

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Hawaii Warriors

Hawaii basically copied Saint Mary's drop-coverage defense, and that's when everything changed.

Rainbow Warrior head coach Eran Ganot is part of the Randy Bennett coaching tree, and he's been slowly implementing Bennett's defensive style over his eight years at Hawaii. However, this is the first year the drop-coverage scheme has dominated.

Passive ball-screen drop coverage dares the opposing ball-handler to shoot the ball, resulting in awkward dribble drives from opposing pick-and-roll ball-handlers. The Rainbow Warriors allow the ball-handler to dribble toward the paint, and then play the ball-screen two-on-two.

As a result, Hawaii allows the nation's lowest 3-point rate and assist rate. Of course, the scheme also results in Hawaii allowing the most paint FGAs in the nation.

But, as you can see above, the overall scheme works. Hawaii's eFG% allowed is the lowest in the Big West.

Offensively, there are serious problems with the Rainbow Warriors.

The biggest problem is likely a lack of spacing (326th nationally in spacing per ShotQuality) and the lack of a No. 1 option. The Rainbow Warriors try to force JoVon McClanahan into the top option role, but he's shooting just 46% from the field.

Hawaii has several scoring threats, including McClanahan, Hepa, Bernardo da Silva and Noel Coleman, but none of them can create their shot effectively.

As a result, Hawaii has slipped to eighth in the Big West in offensive efficiency.

UC Irvine vs Hawaii Betting Pick

Irvine is a half-game ahead of UC Riverside for the top spot in the Big West. Hawaii sits two games back and is tied for fourth place. Meanwhile, both teams are looking to bounce back off an undeserving loss.

So, neither team will be lacking motivation in this matchup.

With the motivational angle in mind, I could see a defensive-minded matchup.

It's always hard to play on the island, just ask UC Riverside. The Highlanders scored 14 points in the first half and somehow won.

Irvine's offense is predicated on Baker's dribble drives and rim penetration, so the Anteaters could struggle against Hawaii's elite drop coverage.

Meanwhile, I am fully out on Hawaii's offense, which has proven ineffective no matter the situation.

The past two games between Irvine and Hawaii on the island have gone under, so I'm willing to bet it will one more time.

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