Illinois men’s basketball selected as No. 2 seed in NIT Tournament

Fans+hold+up+the+flash+lights+on+their+phones+for+a+light+show+before+the+game+against+Minnesota+at+State+Farm+Center+on+Saturday%2C+February+4.+The+Illini+lost+68-59.

Austin Yattoni

Fans hold up the flash lights on their phones for a light show before the game against Minnesota at State Farm Center on Saturday, February 4. The Illini lost 68-59.

By Lucas Wright , Staff writer

As expected, Selection Sunday came and went for the Illinois men’s basketball team without getting the call for the NCAA Tournament.

But the Illini did earn a postseason berth, just not in the tournament they had hoped for.

For the third time in the last four years, Illinois will be headed to the NIT Tournament. The Illini earned one of four No. 2 seeds in the field of 32, consisting of teams that did not earn at-large bids for the NCAA Tournament and mid-major teams that won regular season conference championships.

Illinois will face off with Valparaiso in the opening round in Champaign on Tuesday. The Crusaders are 24-8 out of the Horizon League and were co-champions along with Oakland in their conference.

Valparaiso is led by senior Alec Peters, who has averaged a double-double with just over 23 points and 10 rebounds per game on the season.

Illinois has the opportunity to play at the State Farm Center through the semi-final round, as long as the Illini are the higher-seeded team. Ahead of the Illini, the No. 1 seeds in the tournament are California, Illinois State, Iowa and Syracuse, as these four teams were the “First Four Out” of the NCAA Tournament.

The past has not been kind to Illinois in the NIT Tournament with the Illini falling in the second and first rounds in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

Along with Illinois and Iowa, Indiana rounds out the Big Ten teams in the field.

 

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