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Courtesy: AP

Southern set to face No. 1 seed Gonzaga Thursday

Courtesy: Southern U. Athletic Media Relations
Release: 03/18/2013
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Twenty years after Southern men's basketball posted its lone NCAA tournament win, the Jaguars will venture west looking to conjure up a historic, bracket-busting win.

The Jaguars learned Sunday they are Salt Lake City bound as the No. 16 seed in the West Region to face No. 1 seed Gonzaga Thursday at EnergySolutions Arena.

Tipoff for Thursday's game is slated for 3:10 pm Central time and will air live on TBS.

Southern (23-9) escaped a spot in the First Four game in Dayton, Ohio and will face a Gonzaga (31-2) team that finished ranked first in the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls.

Southern will be making its first tournament appearance since 2006 and only the second appearance since 1993.

An intimate crowd of fans and booster greeted head coach Roman Banks and the Jaguars, who pulled into TJ Ribs straight from their Garland hotel after defeating Prairie View A&M 45-44 Saturday to claim the SWACs automatic bid.

Many in attendance vividly remember Southern's historic run in the NCAA Tounrnament in 1993 in Tucson, Ariz.

After stunning top-seeded Jackson State in the SWAC tournament final, Southern, which received a favorable No. 14 seed, turned the NCAA tournament upside down with an impressive 93-78 upset of No. 3 seed Georgia Tech.

The Jaguars, coached by Ben Jobe, fell short of a Sweet 16 berth after losing 90-80 to George Washington.

The University of Utah will serve as the host site for NCAA Men's Basketball second- and third-round games on Thursday and Saturday at EnergySolutions Arena.

Four second-round West Region games will take place on Thursday, two in the afternoon session and two in the evening session. The winners will meet in a pair of third-round games on Saturday at times to be determined.

No. 8 Pittsburgh (24-8), out of the Big East Conference, will face No. 9 Wichita State (26-8) in Thursday's opening game at 11:40 a.m. MDT on TBS. Pitt is one of only seven programs nationally to advance to the NCAA Tournament in 11 of the last 12 seasons. Wichita State fell to Creighton, 68-65, in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament final.

No. 6 Arizona faces No. 11 Belmont in the first game of the Thursday evening session at 5:20 p.m. MDT on TNT. The Wildcats finished in a three-way tie for second in the Pac-12 Conference during the regular season. The Bruins, who won the Ohio Valley Conference tournament in their first year in the league, join Kansas and Memphis as the only three NCAA Division I programs to earn NCAA Tournament automatic bids six of the last eight years.

New Mexico, the No. 3 seed in the West, will take on No. 14 Harvard in the final game of the day at approximately 7:50 p.m. MDT on TNT. The Lobos won both the Mountain West Conference regular season and tournament titles for the second consecutive year. Harvard earned an automatic bid by winning the Ivy League regular season championship for a second straight year.

The third round games will take place on Saturday. Game times and television information are still to be determined. All of the tournament games will be televised nationally on CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV. The announcers for Salt Lake City are Spero Dedes (play-by-play), Doug Gottlieb (analyst) and Jamie Maggio (reporter).

All-session and single-session tickets are available at the EnergySolutions Arena box office. Fans can also log on to http://www.ncaa.com/final-four#!tickets_hospitality or call 800-888-8499.

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