FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona University men's basketball team has accepted a bid to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament (CIT) and will play on the road in the opening round on March 15 at Santa Clara in the Leavy Center at 7 p.m. Flagstaff time. The entire 2011 CIT field for the tournament will be announced on Sunday night.
Fans can listen to the Lumberjack Radio Network on 105.1 The Big Talker and on the internet at www.bigtalkerradio.com.
"We are extremely thrilled to continue the season and play in an event that is a reward for the terrific season that we have had," said Head Coach Mike Adras. "To get chosen to play in this tournament means a lot to our University."
Santa Clara is 19-14 this season and was the No. 4 seed in the West Coast Conference after finishing 8-6 in league play. Santa Clara advanced to the WCC semi-finals before bowing out 73-64 to WCC co-champion Saint Mary's.
"It is a matchup with a WCC team that had a terrific season themselves," said Adras. "Both teams will be fighting to move on. It is a great springboard to next season."
The Broncos had four players in double figures in WCC play and are led by the nation's No. 1 three-point shooter in Kevin Foster (3.5 threes per game). Marc Trasolini, the WCC Player of the Week Feb. 28, scored 22 points in two straight WCC Tournament games this past weekend. Troy Payne was named the WCC Defender of the Year and Evan Roquemore, who has already broken the Bronco freshman records in assists, free throws made and free throws attempted, was named to the WCC All-Freshman team after averaging a league-leading 11.8 ppg. for newcomers.
"This is a great opportunity and a step for our program to take. To play in March is a privilege and is a hard-earned honor for a season's worth of work. To be able to play in Leavey again is special for our fans and alumni who have had such a big part of our success this year. We are looking forward to sharing in this with everyone next Tuesday," Bronco head coach Kerry Keating said.
The two schools met at Santa Clara as part of the West Coast Classic last season. NAU posted an 88-72 victory. DeAngelo Jones scored a career-high 28 points and Cameron Jones, Gabe Rogers and Eric Platt each added 14 points in the victory.
NAU is 19-12 on the season and was the No. 4 seed in the Big Sky Tournament after finishing 9-7 in league play. The Lumberjacks advanced to the Big Sky semifinals before losing to eventual champion Northern Colorado 73-70 on their home court. NAU is the top three-point shooting team in the country entering postseason play at 42.5 percent and rank fifth overall in field goal percentage.
The Lumberjacks are making their sixth national postseason appearance in school history and first in the CIT. NAU has played in the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) three times, including games in 1986, a loss to Louisiana Tech 67-61, 1997, a 101-75 loss at Arkansas, and 2006, a loss to Delaware 58-53. NAU also earned berths to the NCAA Tournament in both 1998 and 2000.
The CIT is a 24-team, single-elimination tournament that will feature 12 first-round games March 15-16. Four of the teams that win first-round games will advance to the quarterfinals, while the other eight teams will play for the right to advance to the quarterfinals in the second round March 18-19. The quarterfinal round will be played March 21-22 with the semifinals on March 25 and finals on March 30.
Fox College Sports will broadcast the Championship Game of the CIT.
Bracketing will be done geographically into multiple regions of the country, balanced competitively within each region. This process will take place after the NCAA and NIT Tournament fields are announced.
The CIT selection committee consists primarily of retired coaches, including Lefty Driesell, Hugh Durham, Jim Harrick, Lou Henson, Ben Jobe, Jim Phelan and Riley Wallace, who serves as the chairman of the committee.
The CIT began in 2009 with 16 teams. Old Dominion was crowned the champion of the inaugural tournament and the following season the Monarchs advanced to the NCAA Tournament and defeated Notre Dame in 2010. Missouri State won the 2010 CIT.
Missouri State came back to win the regular season MVC title this year and Old Dominion has already advanced to the NCAA Tournament again this season after winning its conference title for the second straight year.
NAU joins Weber State among Big Sky teams accepting postseason bids. The Wildcats will play in the College Basketball Invitational either Tuesday or Wednesday. Northern Colorado received the Big Sky's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament field that is announced on Sunday.
UNC is the only Big Sky Conference team to have played in the CIT, advancing to the quarterfinals in 2010.
Tickets are available for the March 15 game by calling 408-554-4660 or by visiting www.SantaClaraBroncos.com.