HATTIESBURG – (AP) Southern Miss is headed to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1991.
The Golden Eagles (25-8) will face Kansas State (21-10) in the second round on Thursday in Pittsburgh.
It's been a long road for coach Larry Eustachy, who has rebuilt his career in eight seasons at Southern Miss.
Eustachy was once regarded as one of the best young coaches in the country. He took Iowa State to the Elite Eight in 2000, but had to resign following the 2003 season after photos surfaced of the coach partying with young women.
He got a second chance at Southern Miss, but it hasn't been a quick fix. The 56-year-old slowly built the program back to respectability and narrowly missed an NCAA bid last season after winning 22 games.
NCAA Men's Basketball Tourney Field Selected
Failing to win conference tournament titles didn't prevent Kentucky, Syracuse and North Carolina from earning No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament.
Winning the Big Ten Conference title game may have ensured Michigan State received the final No. 1 seed for the Big Dance when the field of 68 was announced Sunday.
Kentucky (32-2), which lost to Vanderbilt 71-64 in the Southeastern Conference tournament championship game, received the No. 1 overall seed and will face the Mississippi Valley State/Western Kentucky winner in the first round.
Syracuse (31-2) was also considered a lock for a No. 1 seed and a loss to Cincinnati in the Big East tournament semifinals did nothing to change that. The Orange will open play in the East Regional against UNC Asheville.
North Carolina (29-5) landed the top seed in the Midwest despite falling to Florida State 85-82 in Sunday's ACC tournament title game. The Tar Heels will face the Lamar/Vermont winner and could be staring at an enticing matchup against second-seeded Kansas.
Michigan State held off Ohio State 68-64 for the Big Ten tourney championship to secure the No. 1 seed in the West and a first-round matchup against Long Island.
Ohio State (East), Duke (South) and Missouri (West) joined Kansas as No. 2 seeds. The Jayhawks, who lost to Baylor in the Big 12 semis, were given serious consideration for a No. 1 seed, selection committee chairman Jeff Hathaway said.