Arizona Wildcats open NCAA tournament with Weber State
The top seeded Arizona Wildcats will begin the NCAA Tournament against 16-seed Weber State on Friday at 11 a.m. in San Diego.
Arizona is 4-0 all-time versus Weber State, but this is the teams’ first match-up in the NCAA Tournament.
Big Sky MVP and Big Sky Tournament MVP senior guard/forward Davion Berry leads Weber State.
(19-11, 14-6 Big Sky Conference)
Dee Events Center:
The 11,500-seat circular domed arena has been home to Weber State since 1977.
(1) Arizona vs. (16) Weber State
When: Friday, 11:10 a.m. MST/PDT
At BYU (L), at UCLA (L) and Montana (W at home, L at Montana)
Weber State and Arizona both faced UCLA and NAU.
Arizona split its two games against UCLA, while WSU lost 83-60 on Dec. 22 in its only match up with the Bruins.
Neither the Wildcats nor Weber State faced UCLA at home.
In its only game against the familiar foe, WSU had an early 16-11 lead but let the Bruins go on a 17-2 run to lose control. UCLA point guard Kyle Anderson scored a then career-high 23 points and the Bruins coasted to a 23-point home victory.
For Weber State freshman guard Richaud Gittens led the way with 15 points on 6-12 shooting.
WSU beat NAU 76-67 in Flagstaff, Ariz. and lost to the Lumberjacks 73-71 in Ogden. Arizona beat NAU 77-44 in Tucson.
WSU by the numbers:
73.2: points per game
66.4: points allowed per game
34.4: rebounds per game
4: blocks per game
.481: field goal percentage
0-117: No. 16 seeds’ record against No. 1 seeds
Davion Berry 19.1 points per game
Joel Bolomboy 10.8 rebounds per game
Davion Berry 4.0 assists per game
Big Sky Conference history:
The Big Sky Conference was established in 1963. Weber State was a founding member of the conference.
Currently there are 11 full-time members in the conference that are located throughout the western region of the United States.
This season is the ninth time Weber State won the Big Sky Conference Tournament, which first began in 1976. It is tied with Montana for most conference tournament wins.
Bringing home the bacon:
Weber State swept its conference’s post-season awards.
Weber State guard Davion Berry was named the regular-season MVP of the conference as well as the tournament MVP. He was also unanimously named to the Big Sky All-Conference First Team for the second consecutive year.
WSU’s freshman Jeremy Senglin was named the conference’s Freshman of the Year and head coach Randy Rahe took home the Coach of Year award.
Additionally, Weber State’s forward Joel Bolomboy was named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year. An award Arizona didn’t receive in the Pac-12 conference.
Road to the NCAA tournament:
Despite being the Big Sky conference regular season champions, Weber State’s résumé was not strong enough to receive an at large bid. The Wildcats needed to also win the Big Sky Conference tournament in order to be invited to the dance. They won the conference tournament by defeating Northern Colorado in overtime then in the championship game beating North Dakota by 21 points.
NCAA Tournament history:
This is WSU’s 15th trip to the NCAA tournament. It’s their first since the tournament expanded to 68 teams in 2011. The Wildcats last made the tournament in 2007 where they lost to UCLA in the first round.
Since 1975 Weber State has never won more than one game in the tournament.
In 1995 a 14-seeded Wildcats team upset 3-seeded Michigan State 79-72 in the opening round. Weber State lost its second round game to 3-seeded Georgetown 53-51.
In the 1999 tournament, a 14th-seeded Weber State team again upset a third-seeded team in the first round. This time it was the North Carolina Tar Heels who fell to the Wildcats. WSU lost in the second round in overtime to 6-seeded Florida.
In the NCAA tournament Weber State has an all-time record of 6-15. Until 1977, each region of the NCAA Tournament had a consolation third-place game.
Current Portland Trail Blazer point guard and 2014 NBA All-Star Damian Lillard attended Weber State from 2008-2012. The 2013 Rookie of the Year was drafted by Portland as the sixth overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.
Both Berry and Lillard are natives of Oakland, Calif. However, they did not attend the same high school.
Rahe said it:
“This team has done a great job on shot selection and turning down an average shot for a good shot,” Weber State head coach Randy Rahe said. “This is going to be a challenge but we’re going to do what we have done all year long and hopefully we can make a couple of shots early to get some confidence going.”
Miller said it:
“Again, they’re well coached and organized,” Arizona head coach Sean Miller said. “And you’re always scared when you see those seniors and they have a couple of seniors that led them to the Big Sky championship and when you have seniors on your team it’s really to your advantage.”