New York, N.Y. - University at Albany Vice President and Director of Athletics Lee McElroy announced on Wednesday, July 20 that the school's men's basketball program has been chosen to play in the 2011 Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off. UAlbany will compete in the North Regional, hosted by Syracuse University at the Carrier Dome.
The 27th annual tournament field will feature Syracuse (Big East), Arkansas-Pine Bluff (SWAC), Brown (Ivy), Colorado State (Mountain West), Florida International (Sun Belt), Fresno State (WAC), George Mason (Colonial), Manhattan (MAAC), Monmouth (Northeast), Oklahoma State (Big 12), Oral Roberts (Summit), SMU (Conference USA), Stanford (Pac-12), Texas-San Antonio (Southland) and Virginia Tech (ACC).
"We are excited to participate in the NIT Season Tip-Off," said UAlbany coach Will Brown, whose squad made the second-best improvement in program history with a 16-16 record last season. "It gives us an opportunity to compete in a tournament and for a championship early in the season. The NIT is an exempt event so we get to play additional games. The proximity of traveling to Syracuse is beneficial for our season ticket holders, fans, students and alumni."
The first- and second-round doubleheaders will be played November 14-16 on the campuses of the four highest-seeded teams -- Syracuse, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma State and Stanford. The winners of the preliminary rounds advance to the semifinals, which take place in New York City's Madison Square Garden November 23. The consolation and championship games will be played November 25.
The remaining teams will play third- and fourth-round doubleheaders November 21-22 on the campuses of the three highest remaining seeds. Participating teams will not play any team twice, and the third- and fourth-rounds will be assigned to the most geographically compatible site.
The sites and pairings are as follows: The North Regional will take place at Syracuse, where the Orange will host Manhattan and UAlbany squares off against Brown. The East Regional will be held on the campus of Virginia Tech and the Hokies will meet Monmouth, with George Mason facing Florida International. The Midwest Regional will be played at Oklahoma State, with the Cowboys taking on Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Oral Roberts battling Texas-San Antonio. Stanford is the host team in the West Regional and will play Fresno State in one half of the doubleheader, while Colorado State takes on SMU.
Syracuse, a two-time NIT Season Tip-Off champion, is coming off a 27-8 campaign and the program's 34th NCAA Tournament appearance. Hall of Fame Coach Jim Boeheim owns an 856-301 career record. Kris Joseph, a 6-foot-7 senior, earned All-Big East third-team honors while averaging 14.3 points. Scoop Jardine, an honorable mention all-conference guard, added 12.5 points per game.
UAlbany will meet an Ivy League opponent for the eighth consecutive season in the first-round match-up with Brown. Head coach Jesse Agel returns Tucker Halperin, an honorable mention All-Ivy performer who scored at a 12.6 clip. Sean McGonagil (11.8 ppg) was named the 2011 Ivy League Rookie of the Year.
Manhattan, a member of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, hired former Louisville assistant Steve Masiello as its head coach last spring. George Beamon, a 6-foot-4 swingman, averaged 16.3 points and was picked to the All-MAAC third team as a sophomore. If UAlbany and Manhattan square off in the second round, it will be the first meeting between the programs since Feb. 4, 1939.
The Great Danes return four starters off last year's team, including All-America East Conference guards Logan Aronhalt (14.6 ppg) and Mike Black (12.3 ppg). Luke Devlin, who averaged 7.4 points and 6.9 rebounds, was voted to the conference all-rookie team. Blake Metcalf, a 6'9" junior, contributed 4.0 points and 4.8 rebounds.
ESPN will provide coverage throughout the event, televising games on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3.com. Games on ESPN and ESPN2 will be simulcast on ESPN3.com. For updated coverage of the NIT, go to www.nit.org.
Paw Prints: Syracuse ranked second nationally in attendance last year by averaging 22,312 at the Carrier Dome ... UAlbany last played Syracuse on Nov. 9, 2009 in the first round of the 2K Sports Classic, benefitting Coaches vs. Cancer ... the Great Danes, who appeared in the 2010 Legends Classic, are part of an in-season tournament field for the third consecutive year.