FGCU MBB to host Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Wednesday in CIT opener

Author: FGCU Athletics
Published: Updated:

DUNK CITY, Fla. (FGCU Athletics) – The FGCU men’s basketball team (22-10) learned its first-round CIT (CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament) opponent early Sunday morning, and the Eagles will be hosting Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (19-13) at Alico Arena on Wednesday, Mar. 18, at 7 p.m.

FGCU – which for the third time in only four years of Division-I eligibility is participating in a postseason tournament – accepted the CIT bid last Monday but had to wait nearly a week to be matched up with its first-round foe.

A&M-Corpus Christi lost by three in the Southland Conference semifinals on Friday to Sam Houston State. The Islanders played in the CIT last year and defeated Northern Colorado before losing to Pacific in the second round. A&M-Corpus Christi posted a 13-5 Southland record and earned the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament. Arguably the Islanders’ biggest win of the year came on Feb. 14 when they knocked off eventual Southland champion Stephen F. Austin (29-4), handing the Lumberjacks – who upset VCU last year as a 12 seed in the NCAA Tournament – their only loss since November and their only loss in the league over the past two seasons.

Tickets are on sale at the Alico Arena Ticket Office, online at FGCUAthletics.com/Tickets and over the phone at 239-590-7145. General-admission tickets will be $15. Season-ticket holders should have already received an email correspondence from FGCU Athletics Ticket Office officials detailing how they can secure their reserved seating. Additionally, students will be able to pick up tickets free of charge by visiting the Ticket Office and showing their Eagle ID.

A&M-Corpus Christi has gone 7-2 in its last nine games, and has been solid defensively in that stretch, holding eight of its nine opponents under 40 percent from the field. In addition to A&M-Corpus Christi, Southland Conference members Incarnate Word (18-10) and Northwestern State (19-12) are both also in the CIT. Meanwhile, FGCU will be joined by USC Upstate (23-11) in representing the Atlantic Sun Conference in the CIT as the Spartans will open their tournament on Tuesday by hosting James Madison (19-13).

The 32-team tournament made up of non-BCS programs is entering its seventh year and has proved to be a launching pad for programs heading into the following season. Several matchups have already been announced, but the complete 2015 CIT field will be unveiled by CollegeInsider.com later on Sunday.

With a win in the opening-round game, FGCU could host a second-round contest as well. The CIT does not utilize a bracket, instead opting to use the old NIT model in which future-round opponents are determined by results of the previous round to ensure geographic stability. The second round and quarterfinal dates are flexible based on travel (if FGCU hosts they will take place on Mar. 22 and 25, respectively), but the semifinals will take place Mar. 31 and the championship is Apr. 2. The semifinals and final will be broadcast nationally on CBS Sports Network.

In 2012, former A-Sun member and FGCU rival, Mercer, won the CIT. Murray State won last year’s CIT, and the Racers built off that championship run for the 2014-15 season in which they were ranked No. 25 in the nation last week following a 25-game winning streak which was snapped in the Ohio Valley Championship game to Belmont.

In just six years, the CIT has provided plenty of excitement while making college basketball history in the process. The 2009 CIT provided the longest game-ending shot in D-I postseason history when Bradley’s Chris Roberts hit a 75-foot heave at the buzzer to stun Oakland, 76-75, in the quarterfinals of the inaugural tournament. The following year, Fairfield rallied from 27 points down with only 16 minutes remaining to beat George Mason, 101-96, as the comeback is the largest in D-I postseason history.

FGCU became D-I postseason eligible in 2011-12, and fell just one game short of reaching the NCAA Tournament in its first season as it lost to Belmont in the A-Sun Championship. In 2013, FGCU reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament before narrowly losing in the first round of the NIT at Florida State last year.

The CIT berth also marks the third-straight year that FGCU will have both its men’s and women’s basketball teams competing in postseason play as the women have already clinched a berth in the NCAA Tournament and will be hosting the A-Sun Championship game this afternoon at 2:30 p.m. The No. 20 Eagles (29-2 and with an RPI of 15) will be squaring off with third-seeded Northern Kentucky (19-12). The Norse, who are in the third year of a four-year D-I reclassification period, were allowed to play in the A-Sun Tournament but cannot advance any further as part of the NCAA-mandated adjustment period.

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