MORAGA, Calif. -- For the third time in program history, the Saint Mary's men's basketball team was selected to participate in the National Invitation Tournament and will host the University of Utah in a first round contest Tuesday at 8 p.m. in McKeon Pavilion.
The Gaels are seeded fourth among their 8-team bracket, while Utah is the fifth seed. The winner will play either top-seeded Minnesota or eighth-seeded High Point in the tournament's second round at a date and site to be determined. Tuesday's game will be televised live on ESPN2.
Current SMC season ticket holders must call the SMC Athletic Ticket Office Monday by 5:30 p.m. at (925) 631-GoTx (4689) to purchase their existing seats. General admission and a limited number of upper reserved tickets are currently available for sale by visiting the tickets link on SMCGaels.com.
Student tickets will be available at a special distribution tomorrow (Monday) morning on campus at Chapel Plaza. Current Gael Force members will receive priority for these specially-purchased student tickets between 7:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. All remaining student tickets will be available for distribution to any current SMC student between 1:30-5 p.m. A current and valid student ID will be required for pick-up and all tickets will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.
Saint Mary's has participated in the NIT twice previously, in 2009 and 2011. The Gaels are 2-2 all-time in the NIT with wins over Washington State and Davidson to open the 2009 event, before falling at San Diego State in the tournament quarterfinals. In 2011, SMC dropped a heartbreaking 1-0 first round decision to Kent State.
The Gaels enter the NIT with a 22-11 overall record and finished fourth in the 10-team West Coast Conference. Utah is 21-11, finished tied for eighth in Pac-12 Conference with a 9-9 league mark.
The entire NIT field features 23 teams with at least 20 wins, 13 automatic qualifiers and representation from 21 of the 32 Division I conferences.
First round play is scheduled for Tuesday, March 18 and Wednesday, March 19, with the second round running March 20-24. Quarterfinals will be held on March 25 and 26 and four teams will advance to New York City for the semifinals on Tuesday, April 1. The NIT will conclude with the Championship game on Thursday, April 3. The semifinal and championship games will be played at New York’s historic Madison Square Garden for the 77th year.
First round action, on campus sites, features number one seeds Florida St., Minnesota, SMU and St. John’s (New York) hosting, Florida Gulf Coast, High Point, UC Irvine and Robert Morris, respectively.
Other first round games include Utah Valley at California, Davidson at Missouri, Vermont at Georgia, Illinois at Boston U., Indiana State at Arkansas, Toledo at Southern Mississippi, Georgia State at Clemson, Iona at Louisiana Tech, LSU at San Francisco, Utah at Saint Mary's, West Virginia at Georgetown and Belmont at Green Bay.
“This may have been the most challenging selection process we’ve had since I joined this committee in 2006,” said Carroll Williams, acting chair of the NIT Selection Committee. “In addition to the 13 institutions which automatically qualified for the NIT and the 19 that we selected with the at-large spots available, there were many others that were worthy of strong consideration into our field.
“We are excited about the field we have and are looking forward to an outstanding tournament beginning Tuesday.”
NIT games are being televised by ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3. Additional NIT information can also be found on www.NCAA.com/NIT