CHARLESTON, SC - Charleston Southern will travel to Norfolk, Va. on Wednesday to take on Old Dominion in the first round of the 2015 National Invitation Tournament. Tipoff between the eight-seeded Bucs and top-seeded Monarchs is set for 7:15 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPN3.
CSU (19-11, 13-5 Big South) earned an automatic berth to the NIT for the second time in three years thanks to its Big South regular season championship. Old Dominion (24-7, 13-5 Conference USA) won its final six regular season games to finish in a tie for 2nd place in Conference USA.
CSU is the No. 8 seed in its region. Old Dominion is one of four No. 1 seeds, along with Colorado State, Temple and Richmond. Wednesday's winner advances to face the winner of No. 4 Illinois State and No. 5 Green Bay in the second round. The first three rounds of the 32-team NIT are held at on-campus sites. The semifinals and finals will be played at Madison Square Garden in New York City on March 31 and April 2.
CSU head coach Barclay Radebaugh was named the Big South Conference Coach of the Year after directing a veteran-laden squad to the winningest regular season in school history. Radebaugh and the Bucs are looking forward to competing in national postseason play for the second time in three years, and just the third time in the program's 50-year history.
"It's an honor to compete in the NIT and we're really excited about the opportunity to play on the national stage," Radebaugh said following the announcement of the bracket on ESPNU. "There are only two teams in the Big South, and 100 teams in the country, that get a chance to play in one of the two national tournaments. It's a big deal and I think the experience of having been there two years ago will make us even hungrier."
CSU is bidding for its first national postseason victory and its first 20-win season since the 1986-87 campaign. The Bucs fell to UCLA in the 1st Round of the 1997 NCAA Tournament, and had a strong showing in the 2013 NIT. CSU fell to top-seeded Southern Miss, 78-71, in the latter season, as the Bucs rallied to within three points in the final minute in Hattiesburg.
Old Dominion is led by a second-year head coach in Jeff Jones, who has directed the Monarchs to a 17-0 home mark this season. ODU point guard Trey Freeman, who played two seasons at Campbell and was the 2011-12 Big South Freshman of the Year, ranks second in C-USA in scoring at 17.4 PPG.
The other number one seeds – Colorado State, Richmond, and Temple – host South Dakota State, St. Francis Brooklyn (making its first NIT appearance since 1963) and Bucknell in the opening round. Other first round games include George Washington at Pittsburgh, Arizona State at UConn, Illinois at Alabama, Vanderbilt at St. Mary's (California), Iona at Rhode Island, and William and Mary at Tulsa.
The second round of the NIT is slated for March 20-23. Quarterfinals will be held on March 24 and 25 and four teams will advance to New York City for the semifinals on Tuesday, March 31. The NIT will conclude with the Championship game on Thursday, April 2. The semifinal and championship games will be played at New York's historic Madison Square Garden for the 78th year.
All 2015 NIT games will also include two experimental rules. Teams will compete using a 30-second shot clock instead of the current 35-second shot clock. The 31 games of the NIT will also have a four-foot restricted-area arc as opposed to the current three-foot arc.