Monday , March 14, 2016 - 6:09 AM
OGDEN — After claiming the 2016 Big Sky Championship in Reno, Nevada, the 15-seed Weber State Wildcats will face the 2-seed Xavier Musketeers at approximately 7:30 p.m. MDT on Friday, March 18 in St. Louis.
“We're really excited,” WSU head coach Randy Rahe said. “I want to play the biggest and the best team we can play, that's kind of how we always go about things and these guys are one of the best teams in the country, so we're excited to go in there and challenge them.”
This will be the first-ever meeting between the two teams.
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Xavier finished second in the Big East Conference and lost to Seton Hall 87-83 in the semifinals of their conference tournament.
The Wildcats and a couple hundred fans gathered inside the Dee Events Center to watch the announcement of tournament matchups Sunday evening, but once Weber State showed up on the board, the assistant coaches went right to work downloading film of Xavier.
“We'll get together ... all day tomorrow, watch more film and put together a game plan,” Rahe said. “And (Weber State players) have been tremendous all year on quick turnaround games, as far as really locking in to what we're trying to give them, a bunch of information in a short amount of time.”
Junior guard Jeremy Senglin and senior forward Joel Bolomboy are among the four players who played in the 2014 NCAA Tournament against Arizona.
“We have a lot of confidence, and like coach Rahe said, we're a great defensive team and that's what we rely on,” Bolomboy said. “We're at our best right now so we're going in with a lot of confidence. We're really competitive and we have a great shot at getting this thing done.”
Rahe will tell his team to have fun during its time in St. Louis, but also expects players to be focused and prepared to play Friday.
“We will be ready to compete, there is no question,” Rahe said. “I want them to enjoy the experience, but when it's time to lock in and get ready to go in our preparation, they'll get locked in and ready to go.”
The Musketeers went 6-1 against nationally ranked teams and split their season series against Big East champion Villanova.
Xavier finished the season 27-5 and posted a conference record of 14-4.
Rahe has confidence in his team and hopes for a good fight against Xavier based on WSU’s performance in the Big Sky Championships.
“With the three games we had (in Reno), we're pretty battle tested right now,” Rahe said. “We've been really, really good in close games. I feel like we're playing really well.”
“I guarantee you one thing, we're going to go in there thinking we can win. That's what we do, and we're going to go in there ready to compete,” Rahe said.
Contact sports reporter Brandon Garside at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @BrandonGarside and on Facebook.com/BrandonGarsideSE.
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