By winning the Big Sky Championship last week, the Weber State men's basketball team punched a ticket to the NCAA Tournament. Sunday the Wildcats found out who and where they will be playing. WSU will be a 15 seed in the West Region and will meet the No. 2 seed UCLA Bruins from the Pac-10 Conference. The two teams will meet Thursday in Sacramento, California at 4:25 p.m. Pacific time.
This is Weber State's 14th trip to the NCAA Tournament and their first since 2003. The Wildcats have won two of their last three Tournament games. In 1995 they defeated Michigan State in the First Round before losing to Georgetown in the Second Round. In 1999 the Wildcats upset North Carolina in the First Round and then lost to Florida in overtime in the Second Round. In 2003, WSU lost to Wisconsin in the First Round. Weber State is 6-14 all-time in 14 NCAA Tournament appearances.
Weber State enters the tournament with a 20-11 overall record under first-year head coach Randy Rahe. WSU finished with an 11-5 record in Big Sky Conference play and finished in a tie for first place in the conference standings with Northern Arizona. The 'Cats won the right to host the Big Sky Tournament. They beat Portland State 77-73 in the First Round of the Tournament and then defeated Northern Arizona 88-80 in the championship game to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament. WSU senior David Patten was named the Conference MVP and was also named the MVP of the Big Sky Tournament. Patten is averaging 14.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, while shooting 54 percent from the field.
UCLA enters the NCAA Tournament with a 26-5 overall record. They finished 15-3 and won the regular season title in the Pac-10. The Bruins lost their last two games, including a 76-69 overtime loss to California last week in the Pac-10 Tournament. The Bruins have a connection to Weber State as UCLA head coach Ben Howland is a former Wildcat. He played two seasons at Weber State in 1978-80 and was named the team Defensive MVP both seasons. He lead the Wildcats to a pair of Big Sky Championships and two trips to the NCAA Tournament. Howland was also the head coach at Big Sky member Northern Arizona from 1994-99.