UC Irvine Anteaters vs. CS Fullerton Titans – NCAAB, February 19, 2021

By Dean McHugh in College Basketball
| February 19, 2021 8:13 am PDT

This is the first of two back-to-back games for these teams, and they will both be looking to get off on the right foot tonight. Neither team has set the Conference alight this season, but they also haven’t been pushovers. Perhaps the Titans have a bit more of an excuse as they have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic and have only played ten games this season.

The Anteaters have owned this fixture over recent years, having won the previous five games between them. They have also only lost once on their last nine visits to Fullerton, so they should be brimming with confidence in these two matches.

Irvine has averaged ten more points per game than Fullerton over the previous ten meetings between them, which has primarily been down to them starting much quicker. They also have a massive 9% better field goal percentage and have made much more rebounds and three-pointers during those games too.

Here is my Anteaters vs. Titans betting preview.

Anteaters vs. Titans Odds

Anteaters -9-110
Titans +9-110
Anteaters To Win-480
Titans To Win+380
Over 139-110
Under 139-110

The bookmakers have set the spread based on their previous ten meetings but haven’t considered this season which could offer some value. However, they have based the points total on this season and not the last ten games.

Anteaters Form

The Anteaters have been hit and miss lately as they have won two and lost three of their previous five matches. This has been particularly the case in their last four games where they played the same teams twice, and on each occasion, they won one and lost one of those games. The final scores in those games could not have been more different. They lost by 21 points to UC Riverside but then beat them by six points the very next game.

Their record on the road has been poor this season and will need to improve if they are to come away with one victory over the Titans, let alone two. They have won only three of their previous nine matches on their travels. The good news is that those three wins came in their last five games, and one of those defeats was in overtime.

Here are the latest betting trends for UC Irvine:

Against The Spread

  • They have won nine of their last 13 games.
  • The Anteaters haven’t lost in any of their previous five matches against the Titans.
  • UC Irvine is 6-12 in their last 18 games played on a Friday.

It seemed like there was little hope for the Titans, but with the game being scheduled on a Friday, they might have a chance. The Anteaters aren’t as woeful at the weekend, so it will be important for the Titans to win this one.

Points Total

  • Six of their last eight games have gone under the betting total.
  • Their games have gone the opposite way on the road as seven of the last ten have gone over the points total.

There isn’t anything to go on here as the two stats contradict each other.

Other Pointers

  • Irvine has won nine of their previous 12 matches.

This shows that the Anteaters enter this game in good form and that it will be a difficult night for the Titans.

The Anteaters have not scored well this season and have only averaged 68 points per game. They have rebounded excellently in attack, asking the question, where would they be if they didn’t?

They don’t tend to take many shots from deep for two main reasons. The first reason is holding on to the ball longer and setting up their plays; they can get in better positions to make rebounds. The second reason is they’re not particularly good at it!

Their offense has been even worse on the road this season and has averaged six fewer points per game.

Thankfully for them, they have a rock-solid defense that only concedes 63 points per game. However, as with their attack, it hasn’t performed on the road and has conceded seven more points per game. They have a meticulous defense that works hard to win the ball back and makes many steals per game. The Anteaters are very well drilled and disciplined also.

Brad Greene has been at the heart of their defense this season, and he puts his improvement down to his body transformation over the last year or so. Incredibly he has lost a whopping 85 pounds during that period, so he has undoubtedly shown his commitment to the cause.

Despite their poor attack, they still bizarrely have the second-best point per game difference in the Big West of 9.4. This suggests that when they win, they win big, and when they lose, it’s usually a close game.

Collin Welp has been in fine form for the Anteaters this season which was highlighted in his last performance as he scored 27 points and made 13 rebounds. If he can produce something similar tonight, it could spell the end for Titans.

Irvine has no reported absentees for this matchup.

Titans Form

You certainly have to feel for the Titans this season as the current worldwide pandemic has played havoc with their schedule, and they haven’t played a game for almost three weeks now. This is particularly a shame as they were starting to find some form, having won three of their previous four games. This includes beating the second-placed Cal St. Bakersfield in a thrilling, high-scoring match last time out.

Most of their games have been at home this season, and they have won four and lost three of their seven matches.

Here are the latest betting trends for CS Fullerton:

Against The Spread

  • Fullerton has won four of their previous six games.
  • They have lost their last five matches played in February.

I think this shows that their poor form has started to pick up recently.

Points Total

  • Four of their last five games have gone over the betting total.
  • The total has gone under in 11 of their previous 16 games against Irvine.
  • Their home matches have seen plenty of points as only five of the last 16 have failed to go over the points total.

There are no real patterns to follow here.

Other Pointers

  • The Titans have only won three of their previous nine matches played on a Friday.

This highlights the fact that neither team appears to play well on a Friday.

The Titans have an excellent offense this season that most teams would be proud of having. They are particularly good at shooting three-pointers and have a success rate of 38%, which is better than their overall field goal percentage in their previous ten matches against the Anteaters. Their rebounding is a concern, especially against a team that rebounds well like Irvine. However, if they continue shooting as well as they have been, then it won’t matter.

They are also shooting well from the free-throw line, but that shouldn’t come into play too much against a team like Irvine.

They are averaging 76 points per game which is only bettered by top-placed Santa Barbara in the Conference.

Their defense has been terrible this season, and they just aren’t closing their opponents down well enough. Perhaps they are putting too much into their attack and need to get the balance right. Their poor marking is made more apparent when you look at their low blocks count for the season.

If CS Fullerton can emulate the waves they are making off the court, they should be fine on to the court. Their coach Dedrique Taylor was the man behind the design of a t-shirt that has gone viral recently. The t-shirts honor all African-American coaches over the years, and it feels a poignant time to have done this.

The Titans also have a clean bill of health for tonight’s game.

Anteaters vs. Titans Betting Pick

Pick
  • Titans +9
    -110

In this game, you have one great offense going up against an excellent defense and a feeble offense facing a poor defense, so their two teams could end up canceling each other out. I believe the gap between these two isn’t as large as many think. Although the Titans may be a bit rusty, I am willing to take the chance and take them along with the handicap to defeat the Anteaters tonight.

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