LOS ANGELES — Sure, it's not exactly the type of March Madness the Wildcats were hoping for this year, but the Weber State men's basketball season continues today nonetheless.
Weber State goes up against Loyola Marymount in a second-round matchup of the fourth annual Collegeinsider.com Tournament, with a 4 p.m. tipoff at Gertsen Pavilion in Los Angeles.
Both teams won their CIT opening-round games last week at home, and both did it against instate opponents. WSU advanced to the second round with a 72-69 victory over Utah Valley, while Loyola Marymount moved on by beating Cal State Fullerton 88-79.
The winner of today's game will likely face the winner of Saturday night's Utah State-Idaho game in the tourney quarterfinals next week.
"I haven't played in a tournament like this since I've been in college," said Weber State star Damian Lillard, the nation's second-leading scorer with an average of 24.4 points per game. "Every game is like, all right, you've got to get prepared for it, you've got to keep yourself ready, and the format keeps you on edge because you don't know what to expect. So it's a good thing.
"It's harder to prepare, but a lot of times when we have a short time period where we've got to prepare for a team, I think that's when we play our best because we don't know what to expect so we're kind of edgy about everything. You're more alert. We've always been at our best in that situation."
Weber State has the best winning percentage (.806) of any team in this year's CIT event and is tied with Robert Morris for the most wins of any team in the tourney field. This is just the sixth time that Weber State has reached 25 wins, and this is the Wildcats' best record since going 26-6 in 2002-03. A win today would give WSU 26 wins for just the fourth time in school history.
Loyola Marymount was the fourth-place finisher in the West Coast Conference this season, finishing behind St. Mary's, Gonzaga and BYU — all NCAA Tournament teams. The Lions also picked up road wins in a pair of places where the Wildcats were badly beaten this season — BYU and St. Mary's — and won in overtime at Idaho State, where the Wildcats also lost.
Loyola Marymount is led by sophomore point guard Anthony Ireland, who averages 15.8 points per game — second-best in the WCC. He scored 26 in Wednesday's win over Cal State Fullerton. Senior Drew Viney adds 15.1 ppg for the Lions, and he and Ireland were both first team All-WCC selections.
"We are glad we can keep playing and looking forward to the game this weekend," said WSU coach Randy Rahe. "Loyola Marymount is a very dangerous team and has won some big games this year.?It will be a real test for us, but we are excited to still be playing."
Wildcats on the air
CIT SECOND ROUND
Weber State (25-6) at Loyola Marymount (20-12)
Today, 4 p.m. MT
Gertsen Pavilion, Los Angeles
TV: none Radio: 1280 AM