Kansas State vs. UC Irvine Betting Guide: An NCAA Tournament Snail Race

Kansas State vs. UC Irvine Betting Guide: An NCAA Tournament Snail Race article feature image
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USA Today Sports. Pictured: Kansas State guard Barry Brown Jr., UC Irvine guard Max Hazzard

#4 Kansas State vs. #13 UC Irvine, NCAA Tournament Betting Odds

  • Spread: Kansas State -4.5
  • Over/Under: 118.5
  • Date: Friday, March 22
  • Time: 2 p.m. ET
  • TV: TBS
  • Location: San Jose, Calif.

>> All odds as of Thursday evening. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and live win probabilities on your bets.


Last year, Kansas State came up just one game shy of its first Final Four appearance since 1964. This year, many are calling for a first-round upset as the Anteaters of UC Irvine have become a trendy pick to take out the Wildcats.

More than 70% of bettors and 75% of dollars are on Irvine as of Thursday night.

Let’s take a closer look at this matchup to gauge whether the Anteaters are worthy of the hype.

The Dean Wade Effect

Without Wade on the floor, Irvine’s defense should absolutely suffocate Kansas State’s offense.

Wade means so much to the Wildcat offense. He’s a matchup nightmare who can space the floor and find the open man with his plus passing skills.

Wade’s jump shot will be especially missed since the Anteaters give up zilch at the rim. Irvine always has a ton of size under head coach Russell Turner, who emphasizes protecting the interior.

Just take a look at Irvine’s national ranks in 2-point shooting defense over the past seven seasons.

Kansas State just doesn’t have the shooters to exploit a UCI defense that makes a living on forcing bad shots (No. 5 in effective field goal percentage).

Wade was not only its best shooter, but the attention he demanded opened up so much for the offense.

The Anteaters have the size, experience and depth to pull off this upset. And it doesn’t hurt that this game will be played in California.

The Pick

The Kansas State defense should also have plenty of success. The Wildcats rank fourth in Defensive Adjustment Efficiency (per KenPom) for a reason: They can defend at a very high level.

Kansas State is a snail, sitting at 342nd in the country in Adjusted Tempo. UC Irvine isn’t in any rush, either, ranking 296th in that same category.

Expect an old school rock fight in San Jose.

Neither team is great from the free throw line, either, but Kansas State will really struggle without Wade, who led the team in free-throw and 3-point shooting percentage.

With both defenses having the edge in a game in which neither team wants to push the ball, I think this is a dead-shot under game. First to 55 might win this.

THE PICKS: UC Irvine +4.5, Under 118.5

Our Projected Odds: Kansas State vs. UC Irvine

Get point spreads for this game and every possible tournament matchup with our bracket simulator built by Sean Koerner, our Director of Predictive Analytics, a former oddsmaker and FantasyPros’ most accurate in-season fantasy football ranker from 2015-2017.

  • Spread: Kansas State -6
  • Over/Under: 119
  • Score: Kansas State 62.5 | UC Irvine 56.5
  • Win Probability: Kansas State 70.9% | UC Irvine 29.1%

Editor’s note: The opinions on these games are from the individual writer and are based on his research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.