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USF Bulls head to NIT, first postseason berth in eight years

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.

Pairings

Bracket 1

No. 8 Stony Brook at No. 1 Illinois, 9 p.m. Wednesday, ESPNU

No. 5 Tulsa at No. 4 Kent St., 7 p.m. Wednesday

No. 6 Illinois St. at No. 3 Dayton, 7 p.m. Wednesday

No. 7 Weber St. at No. 2 Cincinnati, 7 p.m. Wednesday, ESPN2

Bracket 2

No. 8 Jacksonville at No. 1 Arizona State, 11 p.m. Tuesday, ESPN2

No. 5 Texas Tech at No. 4 Seton Hall, 9 p.m. Tuesday

No. 6 St. John's at No. 3 Memphis, 9 p.m. Wednesday, ESPN2

No. 7 Troy at No. 2 Ole Miss, 8 p.m. Wednesday

Bracket 3

No. 8 Quinnipiac at No. 1 Virginia Tech, 7 p.m. Wednesday

No. 5 Northeastern at No. 4 UConn, 7 p.m. Tuesday, ESPN2

No. 6 Nevada at No. 3 Wichita St., 8:05 p.m. Wednesday

No. 7 Northwestern at No. 2 Rhode Island, 7 p.m. Wednesday, ESPNU

Bracket 4

No. 8 Jackson St. at No. 1 Miss.St., 10 p.m. Thursday, ESPNU

No. 5 William & Mary at No. 4 North Carolina, 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, ESPN

No. 6 N.C. State at No. 3 USF, 8 p.m. Tuesday, ESPNU

No. 7 Coastal Carolina at No. 2 UAB, 8 p.m. Tuesday

USF Bulls head to NIT, first postseason berth in eight years 03/14/10 [Last modified: Monday, March 15, 2010 8:25am]
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