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August 2, 2007 at 1:35 PM

NIT field announced

No sooner had I posted the other entry and stepped away from the computer for a little while than the NIT finally announced the field for the pre-season Tip-Off Tournament.
As we’ve written here before, UW will be the host for the first two rounds of the West Region.
As announced today, the Huskies will host New Jersey Institute of Technology in the first game of the West Region on Nov. 13 at Hec Ed while the University of Utah takes on High Point University in the second contest.
The championship and consolation game will take place on November 14. The winner of region championship will advance to the semi-finals and finals in New York on Nov. 21 and Nov. 23.
Obviously this is set up to be a UW-Utah regional final, and that would be a decent test for the Huskies.
The Utes weren’t a great team last season and fired coach Ray Giacoletti, a former Husky assistant.
But Utah did beat Washington State at home early in the season fairly easily and has three of its top four scorers returning from the team that finished 11-19 last season, including leading scorer Johnnie Bryant, a 6-foot guard who scored 16.1 points per game last season. Also back is 7-1 center Luke Nevill, who was the star of the win over the Cougars with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
Like UW is doing with its trip to Greece later this month, Utah will be going to Australia to get acclimated to the system of new coach Jim Boylen. Utah has two Australians on its roster, including Nevill.
First, UW will have to get past New Jersey Tech, a Division-I independent team located in Newark. Last year was NJIT’s first season in Division-I and it was a predictable struggle as the Highlanders finished 5-24.
New Jersey Tech has an enrollment of about 8,000 and its most famous alums all appear to be really rich people I’ve never heard of.
I’d heard earlier that the NIT was having a little trouble filling some of the slots in its tournament after switching to on-campus sites from neutral sites — some teams dropped out after that switch, preferring not to play true road games. That UW ends up with New Jersey Tech seems to indicate that was true.
Still, overall this is nothing but a positive for the Huskies as if they can advance to New York, they are assured of two more games, likely against either Ohio State, Syracuse or Texas A&M. the other three first-round host teams.
Here’s the entire bracket.
As for the rest of UW’s schedule, word is that the Huskies still need to find one more non-conference game, which should happen in the next week or so. Then the final, official schedule for next season is likely to be announced.
UPDATE (4:05 p.m.): Here are some quotes from UW coach Lorenzo Romar in a statement from UW:
“We are very excited to be a participant in the Dick’s Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off Tournament. There are some very good basketball teams in this tournament. Whenever you have a chance to play in a tournament as prestigious as this, it is great for your program. Hopefully, we can play well enough to get to Madison Square Garden and make our presence felt.”
“I think this is a great reward to our fans. Our fans support us as well as anyone in the country. To be able to bring the Dick’s Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off Tournament right here in front of our people is a big, big plus for us.”
When asked if he knows anything about New Jersey Institute of Technology, Romar said:
“By the time we play them, we will.”
Here’s more explaining the rest of the field:
NEW YORK — The 16-team field for the 2007 Dick’s Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off Tournament was announced today.
“We are quite pleased with the caliber of teams in this year’s event and we look forward to another exciting start to college basketball with the NIT,” commented C.M. Newton, chair of the NIT Committee. The NIT Season Tip-Off, founded in 1985, will feature all first- and second-round contests at campus sites. All teams in the tournament are guaranteed at least two games. ESPN will provide coverage of the event, televising games on ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNU.
The East Regional will take place on November 12 and 13 at Syracuse University. The first round doubleheader will showcase the Syracuse Orangemen against the Saints of Siena College while St. Joseph’s University will square off against Fairleigh Dickinson University. The championship and consolation games follow the next day.
The Midwest Regional will take place at Ohio State University on November 12 when the Buckeyes play the University of Wisconsin Green-Bay and Columbia University faces Delaware State University. The championship and consolation game will take place on November 13.
In the South Regional, Oral Roberts University will visit Texas A&M University and the University of Texas, El Paso will play Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi. The South region will play on November 13 and 14.
The Tournament will culminate in New York’s Madison Square Garden with the semi final doubleheader tipping at 7 p.m. ET on November 21 (ESPN2). The championship doubleheader will be played on November 23, with the consolation game starting at 4:30 p.m. on ESPN with the championship game tipping at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.
The post season NIT was founded in 1938 by a group of New York City sportswriters while the NIT Season Tip-Off, formerly known as the preseason NIT, started in 1985. An independent at-large committee chooses the field for both events. Since the inception of the two Tournaments, tens of thousands of student-athletes and coaches have participated. Visit www.nit.org for more details on Tournament history, selection committee and procedures.

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