Back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006, the Southern men's basketball team will face Gonzaga in the West Region of the tournament's second round Thursday in Salt Lake City.
The Jaguars (23-9), who are in the national tournament for the eighth time, clinched their spot with a 45-44 victory against Prairie View in the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament championship game Saturday in Garland, Texas. Southern, a No. 16 seed, avoided a trip to Dayton, Ohio, for the first-round play-in games.
Gonzaga, a No. 1 seed, is the top-ranked team in the Associated Press poll. The Bulldogs are 31-2 -- their lone losses are to Illinois and Butler -- and they claimed the West Coast Conference regular-season and tournament championships.
Northwestern State (23-8), the Southland tournament champion, is a No. 14 seed in the South Region and drew a second-round matchup with No. 3 Florida (26-7), the SEC regular-season champion, on Friday in Austin, Texas.