Sunday, March 15, 2009

Niagara Gets its Reward: NIT Host

The MAAC's other men's team in a post-season tournament, Niagara, can't be unhappy about its fate.

The Purple Eagles will not only play in the NIT, but will host a first-round game.

Niagara is 26-8 overall, and will host 22-10 Rhode Island on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

This marks the 13th NIT berth for the Purple Eagles and second for 11-year head coach Joe Mihalich. The 2004 Niagara squad defeated Troy State in the first round.

The game will be played in the Taps Gallagher Center on Niagara's campus, a cozy gymnasium where fans are extremely close to the court. It is one of the most-daunting home-court atmospheres in the conference. Anyone who doubts that can ask Siena's opinion. Niagara beat the Saints, 100-85, there late in the regular season.

Rhode Island is coached by Jim Baron, who knows all about playing at Niagara, having done so several times while coaching at Saint Bonaventure.

Niagara is a No. 3 seed in one of four eight-team brackets in the 32-team event.

Games in the first three rounds are held at home-court sites. After three rounds, the final four teams move on to the semifinal and final round at New York City's Madison Square Garden.

The winner of the Niagara-Rhode Island game will advance to meet the winner of a first-round game between Penn State and George Mason.

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