CIT Invite Great For Cajuns Basketball – From the Bird’s Nest
Remember back in the '80s when the Ragin' Cajuns were invited to the National Invitation Tournament?
In those days, the NIT was made up of some major schools who weren't selected to the NCAA field, but also had plenty of teams like the Cajuns: mid-majors who had a good season. The Cajuns advanced to the quarterfinal round in 1980 and made it all the way to New York City for the national semifinals in 1984. Another trip happened in 1985, this time to the second round.
And, the Cajuns got two trips to the NIT during the Jessie Evans era, losing to UAB in 2002 and Louisiana Tech in 2003.
But, a few years ago the NIT was bought out by the NCAA and they run it a lot like their major tournament. They make a provision for conference regular season champions who don't make it into the NCAA, but, for the most part it's made up of teams from top ten or twelve conferences who didn't get invited to the Big Dance. It's now seeded by regions like the NCAA tournament and the higher seed gets to host.
And that means games like the ones we saw at Blackham Coliseum in the 80's just don't happen anymore for teams like the Cajuns.
But a few years ago, a couple of other postseason tournaments appeared. One is the College Insider Tournament, or CIT for short. This 24-team tournament is made up of mid-majors who did not win their regular season conference championship or get selected to the NCAA or NIT.
Imagine that...a postseason tournament made up of teams just like the Cajuns.
The Cajuns have gotten their invitation and they have accepted.
And, even better, they'll play at home at the Cajundome. We don't know the opponent yet, but the game will be next Wednesday night.
Usually, the CIT keeps first round matchups regional. Rice, Stephen F. Austin and the loser of the Lamar-McNeese game in Saturday's Southland Championship have been mentioned as possible opponents. And, you can't rule out Louisiana Tech either. The Bulldogs beat Utah State last night to advance to the semifinals of the WAC Tournament.
The Cajuns will have to sell a little more than 3,000 tickets to break even for the event. And, there's a good chance, should they win, that they'll get to play at home for the second round.
Since coach Bob Marlin's decision to suspend point guard Raymone Andrews and forward J. J. Thomas ten days ago (the two have since asked for and received their releases), AAU coaches in the state have hammered the Cajuns pretty hard on the recruiting trail. (High school coaches seem to be much less hostile.) This trip into postseason will help recruiting in the state somewhat.
In fact, there's absolutely no downside to this. The Cajuns are in postseason for the first time since winning the Sun Belt Conference championship in 2004-05.
And, that can only be a good thing.