At long last the Canisius men's basketball team will be playing in a national post-season tournament, receiving an invitation to the 2013 CollegeInsider.com's Postseason Tournament.(CIT). And, they're not alone among MAAC teams in the event. Rider and Loyola have also accepted invitations to the event.
The Golden Griffins, though, are ending their 17-year postseason drought. The last time Canisius saw national post-season play was in 1996 when it played Utah in the first round of the NCAA event.
Even better news for Canisius this time. It will host a first-round CIT game on Wednesday, March 20 with a 7 p.m. start in the Koessler Athletic Center against an opponent to be announced. It's also the program's first home postseason contest since it played, and defeated, Washington State in the quarterfinal round of the 1996 NIT. That game was played in Buffalo's old Memorial Auditorium.
Loyola, which is 20-11 overall, will also host a first-round contest that will be played on March 19 at its on-campus Reitz Arena.
Rider, 18-14, will be on the road for its CIT opener, either this coming Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. Event pairings will be announced Sunday night. It's Rider's fourth postseason tournament in the last six years, having also played in the CIT in 2011, 2009 and in the CBI event in 2008.
"We're very excited," said Rider coach Kevin Baggett, in a release issued by his school. "Although it's not the NCAA which is what we were and are striving towards it's always great to have an opportunity to be rewarded for having a good season by playing in the postseason.
The Griffs' Jim Baron, echoed that sentiment.
"Any time you get to play in the postseason, it's a great thing," said Baron in a release issued by the school. "There are close to 350 teams at the Division I level and more than half of them are going to be sitting at home. This gives our guys a chance to continue to compete, and it serves as a real testament to the hard work and accomplishments that this group have put together. We are very excited to be able to bring postseason basketball back to Canisius."
The Griffs finished 18-13 overall this season under Baron, who will be taking a team to a national postseason event for the 12th time in his 26-year head coaching career.
Loyola is headed to its second straight postseason event, having played in the NCAA's last year. Its first-round home game will begin at 7:30 p.m.
"This is a great opportunity for our players, fans and school to participate in the CIT," said Greyhounds' coach Jimmy Patsos, in a press release. "(It's) ... an event that is fantastic for mid-major college programs."
The Greyhounds are in the midst of their second straight 20-victory season, the first time in the program's Division I history it has won 20 games in back-to-back seasons.
This is the fifth year of the CIT event, with first-round games to be played March 18, 19 and 20. The CIT consists of teams not participating in the NCAA or NIT fields, and participants must have at least a .500 record through the regular season. The event's championship game will be played on April 2 and be nationally televised by CBS.
The CIT bids mean that five of the MAAC's 10 teams are playing in national postseason events this year. Iona, of course, is headed for the NCAA's, while Niagara is set for the NIT.