WKU earns 16 seed, will play Miss. Valley St. in ‘First Four’ matchup Tuesday

(From left) WKU basketball players Kahlil McDonald, Teeng Akol and Jamal Crook laugh during the viewing party on Selection Sunday. WKU enters as a 16 seed and will play fellow 16 seed Mississippi Valley State on Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio in the “First Four.” The winner plays No. 1 overall seed Kentucky on Thursday in Louisville.

Cole Claybourn

After an improbable run to earn its 22nd NCAA Tournament berth, WKU learned its draw on Sunday.

WKU (15-18) earned a No. 16 seed and will play fellow No. 16 seed Mississippi Valley State — champions of the Southwestern Athletic Conference — at 5:30 p.m. CT on Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio as part of the “First Four.”

The winner will play overall No. 1 seed Kentucky on Thursday in Louisville.

Tip-off is set for 5:30 p.m., but is subject to change. The game will be televised nationally on truTV, part of CBS’ affiliated networks covering the NCAA Tournament. President Barack Obama and United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron will be in attendance.

The Delta Devils (21-12) started off the season 1-11 in a non-conference schedule that pitted them against teams such as Notre Dame, North Carolina, Florida and Wisconsin.

They went on to win 20 of their next 21 games in conference, losing just once to Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 78-67, on March 1.

MVSU’s only non-conference win came on Nov. 25 — a 90-89 double overtime win over Tennessee State, a team WKU beat 52-49 on Nov. 14.

Head Coach Ray Harper said it’s the type of draw WKU anticipated.

“With a losing record, we thought we’d probably have a First Round game in Dayton.” he said. “We’re excited to still be playing basketball and it should be a great game.”

In fact, MVSU is the matchup Harper said he and his staff were expecting.

“We have a lot of information about Mississippi Valley,” Harper told fans at a Selection Show viewing party at Diddle Arena on Sunday. “Our guys don’t know that we worked on a lot of stuff (Sunday). We anticipated playing these guys. So we’ve got a good start and we will be ready to play Tuesday night at 6 o’clock.

“Our approach all season has been one game at a time. The only team that matters right now is Mississippi Valley. All I can tell you guys is hopefully I’ll see you all soon — Tuesday in Dayton and then Thursday in Louisville.”