Rob Loe's Billikens facing tough NCAA path

SCOTT PRESTON
Last updated 13:00 17/03/2014
Rob Loe
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THE BIG DANCE: Rob Loe's Saint Louis Billikens will face either NC State or Xavier in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday (NZ time)

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Tall Blacks centre Rob Loe and his Saint Louis team will have to wait to find out their first opponent in US college basketball's NCAA Tournament.

The Billikens, who have lost four of their last five games to stumble into the 68-team 'Big Dance', have been seeded fifth in the Midwest bracket and will meet the winner of Wednesday's first round play-in game between North Carolina State and Xavier in the second round at 12.20pm on Friday (NZ time) in Orlando.

Loe, in his senior season, had eight points, four rebounds, a block and an assist as the top-seeded Billikens were upset 71-68 by St Bonaventure in the first round of the Atlantic 10 conference tournament last week.

Saint Louis had a 19-game winning streak this season that boosted them to No 8 in the nation, before losing conference games to Duquesne, VCU and Dayton, dropping to No 18, before the conference tournament defeat. The Billikens earned their second straight A-10 regular season title, finishing with a 26-6 record.

The Billikens will be looking to advance to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 1957 after losing in the third round the last two years, but have a tough path to the Elite Eight, which could include games against defending champions Louisville and No 1 seeds Wichita State or perennial powers Kentucky.

Loe averaged 9.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.3 blocks per game in 32 games in 2013-14.

Fellow Tall Black Tai Webster will be New Zealand's other involvement in the NCAA Tournament, with his Nebraska Cornhuskers seeded 11th in the West bracket, with a second round game against sixth seeds Baylor in San Antonio at 5.40am on Saturday (NZ time).

Nebraska finished the regular season with a 19-12 record, fourth in the Big Ten conference, and lost to No 24 Ohio State 71-67 in the first round of the conference tournament. Webster, starting at point guard, went scoreless with one assist.

Webster averaged 4.1 points, 2.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 31 games.

Former Junior Tall Black Richie Edwards, who averaged 6.7 minutes and 2.5 points per game in 15 games for Arizona State, will suit up for the Sun Devils in their second round game against Texas at 2.40pm on Friday (NZ time).

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