3-12 Men's BBall v. Montana (Ariana Berkemeier) (17 of 36).jpg
The Wildcat bench reacts during a play in the Championship game. Weber's win at the Big Sky takes the team to St. Louis, Missouri, where they will take on Xavier University. (Ariana Berkemeier / The Signpost)

The Weber State men’s basketball team will travel to St. Louis, Missouri, to take on Xavier University at 8:20 p.m. central time (7:20 MT) at the Scottrade Center in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament on March 18.

With a record of 15-3, Weber State entered the Big Sky Tournament with a No. 1 spot, securing a first-round bye. In the second round, WSU beat Portland State 78-74. On Friday, the team beat North Dakota in overtime to advance to the championship round against Montana.

Weber State beat Montana 62-59 and earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the second time in the last three years. Weber State, with a record of 26-8, earned a No. 15 seed in the tournament. This will be the 16th time the Wildcats will appear in the NCAA Tournament.

Xavier University, with a record of 27-5, lost to Seton Hall University in the semi-final round of the Big East Conference, earning a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

The WSU men’s basketball team has six NCAA Tournament game wins in its history. The last win was in 1999 when WSU beat North Carolina in the first round 76-74. In 2014, the Wildcats fell to Arizona in the first round 59-68.

This will be the first encounter between Weber State and Xavier.

“We are really excited. I want to play the biggest and the best team we can play. [Xavier] is one of the best teams in the country, and we are excited to go in there and challenge them,” said head coach Randy Rahe in the post selection press conference.

This will be Rahe’s third trip to the NCAA Tournament in his 10 years as Weber State’s head coach. This year, he became the Weber State all-time winningest coach with a record of 208-112. With winning 129 conference games, he is also the coach with the most Big Sky wins in history.

“We will be ready to compete. There is no question,” Rahe said. “I want them to enjoy this experience, but when it is time to lock in and get ready to go, they will get locked in and ready to go.”

Senior Joel Bolomboy will be returning to the NCAA tournament for the second time. Bolomboy was named the Big Sky MVP and Defensive Player of the Year. He is one of the five finalists for the Kareem Abdul-Jabber Center award that will be announced on April 8, 2016.

“We are at our best right now,” said Bolomboy in the post selection press conference. “We are going in with a lot of confidence. We are really competitive, and we have a great shot at getting this thing done.”

Junior Jeremy Senglin will also make his second appearance in the tournament. Senglin leads WSU in scoring points with an average of 18.2 per game. He was named Big Sky Tournament MVP.

Heading into the NCAA Tournament, Senglin plans to “be aggressive and stay focused.”

Weber State University is hosting two watch parties here in Ogden. On campus, viewers can watch the game in the Shepherd Union. Off campus, MacCools on 25th and Washington will also host a fan watch party.

Either Weber State or Xavier will advance to play the winner of the Wisconsin/Pittsburgh game on Sunday.

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