Raiders Land NCAA Tourney Bid

<b>No. 6 seed Tech</b> will face <b>No. 11 seed Southern Illinois</b> in the Eastern Regional first round of the <b>2002 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament</b> on Friday at the United Center in Chicago.<p> <br>

Tech's NCAA Tournament berth is its first since 1996 and Bob Knight's 25th overall appearance in the Big Dance.

If the Raiders win, they will play the winner of No. 3 seed Georgia (21-9) and No. 14 seed Murray State (19-12). Maryland (26-4) is the top seed in the East Regional.

The Salukis (26-7) received the school's first-ever at-large bid to the tournament and fifth bid overall. Southern Illinois played first round games in 1995, 1994 and 1993, and advanced to the Sweet 16 in 1977.

"The neat thing is the at-large thing-that shows respect for our program and our league," said Southern Illinois coach Bruce Weber. "Yeah, it would have been nice to win the (MVC) tournament and avoid the hoopla this week, but I think (the bid) shows respect for what we've done consistently all year.

"Our guys have worked very hard since last spring. The seniors have been great leaders. Our upperclassmen have been great leaders. We've got 26 wins because of them."

Weber said his squad is excited to face Knight and Tech (23-8).

"We didn't get to face (Knight) earlier this year. With Indiana playing here, and I know a lot of people were looking forward to that," said Weber. "The ironic thing is that probably we're in the tournament because of him. He's the one that scheduled the game here and that big win over Indiana probably made a difference. And, now he's got to face us.

"He's done a tremendous job this year. This is the same team that last year was one of the bottom teams in the Big 12 and he's turned it around with a lot of the same players."

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