NCAA men’s basketball tournament tips off at Viejas Arena

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The first NCAA men's basketball tournament games at
San Diego State's Viejas Arena since 2006 will be played Friday, beginning with
Weber State making the 118th attempt by a No. 16 seed to defeat a No. 1 seed
Arizona at 11:10 A.M.

“I told our kids from day one when when we found out we were playing
Arizona…a 16 has never beat a 1 and it's going to happen someday,” Weber
State coach Randy Rahe said.

“There have been some close calls. From our standpoint, all you want is
an opportunity to have a chance to do that. When you have opportunity, there
is hope and that's (what) we're going to take into the game.”

The closest calls both came in 1989 when 16th-seeded Princeton and East
Tennessee State both lost by one point. In 1990, Murray State went into
overtime before losing to Michigan State.

In Thursday's lone No. 1 vs. No. 16 match-up, Florida defeated Albany, 67-
55, after the score was tied, 39-39, with 14 minutes, 32 seconds to play.

To Weber State guard Jordan Richardson “it's important to have a fast

“(If) we don't let them get in transition and get a fast start and keep
it close in the first half, I think we will stick with them the second half
as well,” Richardson said.

Weber State (19-11) qualified for the tournament by winning the Big Sky
Conference tournament after also winning the regular-season title.

Arizona (30-4) won the Pacific-12 Conference's regular-season
championship, then lost in the final of the conference tournament to UCLA, but
still received the No. 1 seed in the West Region.

The second game will match Gonzaga (28-6), seeded eighth in the West,
against ninth-seeded Oklahoma State (21-12).

The third game will be between Virginia Commonwealth (26-8), seeded
fifth in the South Region, against 12th seeded Stephen F. Austin (31-2).

UCLA (26-8), seeded fourth in the South Region, will face 13th-seeded
Tulsa (21-12) in the final game.

There are two players among the eight teams playing today from San Diego
– Tanner Clayton, a Stephen F. Austin reserve forward who graduated from
Rancho Bernardo High School, and UCLA starting guard Norman Powell, an alumnus
of Lincoln High School.

“As soon as we saw that we were the fourth seed playing in San Diego my
phone was blowing up with text messages,” from people excited about his
playing in San Diego for the first time in his college career, Powell said.

A limited number of tickets for today's games went on sale at Thursday
morning via and

The Arizona-Weber State and Gonzaga-Oklahoma State and Virginia
Commonwealth-Stephen F. Austin and UCLA-Tulsa winners will meet Sunday. Ticket
available for Sunday's games will be announced Saturday.

Tournament rules forbid teams from playing on their home turf, so the
fourth-seeded Aztecs men's basketball team played 13th-seeded New Mexico State
in the tournament's West Region in Spokane, Wash., Thursday night. The Aztecs
defeated the Aggies 73-69 in overtime and are scheduled to play the 12th-seeded
North Dakota State Bisons on Saturday in Spokane.

NCAA tournament games were also played at Viejas Arena in 2001 and 2006.

In 2006, the start of play was delayed for about an hour when bomb-
sniffing dogs alerted security personnel to a possible hazard. In a last-minute
sweep before fans were allowed to enter the arena, the dogs reacted to the
metal service cabinet at a condiment stand as if it contained an explosive
substance, authorities said.

Authorities cleared workers out of the arena and explosives experts were
called in to investigate. A seven-member fire department bomb squad deployed
a robotic device to check out the contents of the self-service table, finding
plastic forks, knives, spoons and napkins.

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