TAMPA — USF basketball is back in the postseason.
The Bulls, playing in the postseason for the first time in eight years, earned a No. 3 seed in the NIT and hosts North Carolina State on Tuesday night at the Sun Dome. Tipoff is set for 8, with the game broadcast on ESPNU.
"We certainly are excited to be in this tournament," coach Stan Heath said Sunday night. "It's an opportunity to play a second season, a postseason, and we're facing a very strong team. You take it one game at a time, but you're trying to win a championship."
The Bulls (20-12) will seek their first postseason win in 15 years when they face the Wolfpack (19-15), which finished in a three-way tie for ninth in the 12-team ACC at 5-11. N.C. State has played some of its best basketball in the state of Florida this season, with wins at Florida State and Miami.
Heath had the whole team to his house for dinner Sunday night to watch the NIT announcement on ESPNU. He said the players have shown excitement about playing on in two practices since the Bulls lost to Georgetown on Wednesday in the Big East tournament.
USF won its last two NIT home games, beating St. John's and Coppin State in reaching the third round in 1995.
There are four other Big East teams joining USF in the 32-team field. Cincinnati is a No. 2, hosting Weber State; Seton Hall is a No. 4, hosting Texas Tech; Connecticut is a No. 4, hosting Northeastern; and St. John's is a No. 6, traveling to Memphis. In all, 13 of the Big East's 16 teams are playing in the postseason.
USF had hoped to earn its first NCAA Tournament berth in 18 years, but the Bulls didn't have enough to earn an at-large berth. Going into this season, of the 123 Big East teams that won 20 games entering the postseason, all but three had earned trips to the NCAAs.
USF vs. N.C. State
When/where: 7 p.m. Tuesday, NIT first round; Sun Dome, Tampa
Tickets: On sale today at 8 a.m. Call toll-free 1-800-402-8557 (1-800-GO BULLS) to order tickets, which range from $4-$30. Also, check Ticketmaster.com late this morning for online ticket sales. Floor seats are $30, first-level seats $20, second-level seats $10 and third-level seats $8. Youth (18 and under) and USF student tickets are $4. Season-ticket holder seat locations are reserved for their purchase but must be purchased by noon Tuesday.