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Akron men's basketball gets 13-seed in NCAA tournament's south region, will face No. 4 UCLA in 1st round

The Zips will attempt to get their first-ever tourney win against a team that went to the Final Four last year.

AKRON, Ohio — The Akron Zips have never won a game in the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament.

Later this week, they'll get the chance to change that... against the team that has won the whole thing more times than any other school.

Akron has earned the 13th seed in the tourney's East Region and will face No. 4 UCLA in the first round Thursday in Portland, Oregon. Head coach John Groce and the Zips learned their fate during a "Selection Sunday" watch party at James A. Rhodes Arena, one day after beating archrival Kent State in the Mid-American Conference championship game to earn the bid.

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Akron (24-9) is in the "Big Dance" for the first time since 2013 and fifth time overall. The last time the 2022 MAC champs were in this position, they were blown out 88-42 by fifth-seeded VCU in the opening game.

2013 was also the last time Groce was in the NCAA Tournament, back when he was leading Illinois. Previously, he led Ohio to the bracket, including a run to the Sweet 16 in 2012.

RELATED: 3News sports anchor Nick Camino goes one-on-one with Akron men's basketball coach John Groce

UCLA's (25-7) tourney history speaks for itself, with a record 11 national championships to go with 19 Final Four appearances. The Bruins haven't won it all since 1995, but did make it to the semifinals last year, and guards Johnny Juzang and Jaime Jaquez Jr. are back from that squad.

Akron and UCLA will face off at the 9:50 p.m. eastern time Friday Moda Center, home of the Portland Trail Blazers.

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