Call it the Big West fan in me, even after a titanic of a season in Northridge, I can see the UC Irvine Anteaters pulling the upset over the fourth seeded Louisville Cardinals. A classic battle of David vs Goliath, an Irvine athletic program that has never played in March Madness, going up against the storied Cardinals, with 40 appearances in the Big Dance, ten Final Fours and three championships, most recently in 2013.
Not to mention, Rick Pitino's Cardinals are battle tested, in the great Athletic Coast Conference, while the Anteaters trudged through the less prestigious Big West Conference, earning the bid with three consecutive nine point victories at the Honda Center in Anaheim, including an overtime thriller against UC Santa Barbara in the semi-finals.
What makes the Anteaters stand out, however, is Mamadou Ndiaye, the 7 foot 6 center from Senegal. Averaging just a notch over 19 minutes a game, the big man is averaging 10.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks while connecting on 63% of his attempts from the field. Will Davis II, Ndiaye's mate in the front court, may be nearly a foot shorter but the duo remains to be considered Twin Towers. Davis is putting up 12.9 points with 7 rebounds while connecting on 54.1% from the field.
Irvine needs both of these guys to go all out if they want to upset the Cardinals, and a relatively difficult out of conference schedule should have the Anteaters seasoned, the upset is there for the taking.