OGDEN — Within minutes of Weber State flashing across the TV screen paired next to No. 1 seed Arizona during Sunday’s NCAA selection show, Kyle Tresnak started getting text messages.
There were texts of course from family members congratulating the senior on his first NCAA tournament appearance, but there were many more from University of Arizona students who Tresnak knows from growing up in Scottsdale, Ariz.
“I’m probably going to have a lot of people jawing at me for a while,” said Tresnak, who said he wouldn’t want it any other way after helping Weber State secure its first tournament appearance in seven years by winning the Big Sky tournament Saturday night.
“It’s a great feeling, I’ve been waiting four years for this. There’s no words to explain this,” he said.
Weber State earned the No. 16 seed in the West Region and will face No. 1 seed Arizona on Friday in San Diego at the Viejas Arena. The game is slated to start at 12:10 p.m. Mountain time and will be broadcast on TNT.
A No. 16 seed has never dethroned a top seed in the first round, something Weber State coach Randy Rahe is fully aware of, but it's a challenge he embraced at the Dee Events Center on Sunday at Weber State’s NCAA selection fan party.
“In our situation, we knew it was going to be a top team in the country. I guarantee one thing, a Wildcat is going to win,” joked Rahe. “Arizona is obviously a prestigious program. They were No. 1 for most of the year, they’ve got an outstanding team, and that’s what we want to do. We want to go play the best. Let’s go take a swing at them and see what happens.”
While Weber State won the Big Sky regular season and tournament title, Arizona won the Pac-12 regular season title but was edged out by UCLA in the tourney title game in Las Vegas 75-71 Saturday.
Davion Berry, who scored 19 points in Saturday’s Big Sky championship game against North Dakota, said he’s quite familiar with Arizona after watching them on ESPN all season.
“They get all the big time games. They’re athletic, long, we’re going to be ready,” he said. “I’m just happy we made the tournament and we get the opportunity. Most teams don’t get the opportunity to play in March around this time.”
Some of the bracket projections leading up to Sunday’s selection show had Weber State earning a No. 15 seed and heading back to Milwaukee, but Rahe said the difference in No. 15 and No. 16 seeding is minimal at best.
“If you’re a 16 or a 15, you’re still playing one of the top teams in the country,” said Rahe. “We’re excited about who we’re going to play and the opportunity to play.”
Rahe’s particularly excited to avoid a trip to Milwaukee, adding that San Diego is a close trip for his players and a great reward for their efforts all season.
“I’m really, really proud of those seniors, and I’m really happy for them because they’ve worked as hard as anybody in our program, and they’ve just come up short. They didn’t come up short any more, and they earned the right to be champions,” said Rahe.
Senior Jordan Richardson said he’s dreamed of playing in the NCAA tournament since he was 5 years old, and he said seeing Weber State flash across the TV screen Sunday was a surreal feeling. Now it’s time to get down to business.
“Arizona is a great team, they earned a No. 1 seed, but we’ll be ready to play. We’re not going to come out scared, we don’t care who we play,” said Richardson. “We’re playing great basketball right now. We’re playing our best basketball of the season right now. “
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company