In a conference that has only been represented in the NCAA tournament by the conference tournament champion each year since 2006, the Anteaters have been one victory away from advancing to the tournament six times, including in 2017 and 2018.
UC Irvine's other NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament appearance was in 2015 when it was the 13th seed in the East Regional and lost to fourth-seeded Louisville, 57-55, in a game the Anteaters led in the final minute.
UC Irvine opened in 1965 and began competing on the Division I level in 1977. It twice qualified for the Division II tournament.
The Anteaters went into Friday's game as 4 1/2-point underdogs to the Kansas State Wildcats (25-8). The ABC News-owned data prediction website FiveThirtyEight.com gave UC Irvine just a 23 percent chance of winning. Among participants in ESPN's Tournament Challenge, 21.4 percent picked the Anteaters to win.
Former President Barack Obama was the highest-profile person to predict a UC Irvine victory.