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Big West tournament is UC Irvine's steppingstone to an NCAA return

Big West tournament is UC Irvine's steppingstone to an NCAA return

When the casual college basketball fan first heard of UC Irvine, the Anteaters were leading mighty Louisville. It was the first round of last year's NCAA tournament, the first time Irvine had played in the tournament, and the game was in the final minute.

The Anteaters lost by two points. The casual fan and his bracket breathed a sigh of relief, and the Anteaters retreated to the invisibility of the Big West Conference.

They had another fine season. With two victories in this week's Big West tournament at Honda Center, the Anteaters (24-8) would set a school record for most victories in a season.

They need three victories,...

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