Moments after learning Sunday they had been left out of the NCAA Tournament, the CSU men’s basketball team accepted a bid as a No. 1 seed in the National Invitational Tournament.
The Rams (27-6) will continue their record-breaking season at 8 p.m. Wednesday when they host No. 8 seed South Dakota State at Moby Arena. The Rams, looking to add to their school-record win total, have never faced in the Jackrabbits (23-10) in basketball.
Earlier in the day, the Rams watched in disbelief as the 68-team NCAA field was revealed. Most college basketball experts had projected the Rams into the field because of their strong Ratings Percentage Index (No. 30). Instead, they became the first team with an RPI of 30 or better left out of the 68-team field.
Third-year Rams coach Larry Eustachy declined to take questions from media assembled at Moby Arena, saying his was team was devastated after being passed over by the NCAA selection committee.
“I’ve got 12 guys who are crying,” he said after the team watched the NCAA Selection Show together. “They certainly are one of the best 68 teams in the country. Now we move on.”
The Rams will be making the eighth NIT appearance in school history and the first since the 2010-11 season. As one of four No. 1 seeds, the Rams would play the first three rounds of the 32-team tournament at home before the semifinals are played at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The NIT has been good to the Rams in the past. In 1988, coach Boyd Grant led the Rams to a third-place finish, and the Rams used that momentum to earn back-to-back NCAA Tournament berths in 1989 and 1990.
Tickets on sale now
Tickets go on sale at 8 a.m. Monday, with priority given to current season-ticket holders and Ram Club members. Student tickets will also be on sale. Call the CSU Rams ticket office – (970) 491-7267 – for information. The ticket office, located at the McGraw Athletic Center, is open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.