For the second time in three seasons, the NIT has LSU in its plans.
This time, LSU is returning the favor.
The Tigers, off a 17-14 season that saw them finish with an 8-10 record in the SEC and seven top 50 RPI wins, will host an opening-round NIT game against Louisiana-Lafayette in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in a 6 p.m. tipoff Wednesday. The game will not be televised but will be available through WatchESPN streaming and over the LSU Sports Radio Network.
“We are very excited to have been chosen to play in the 2018 NIT,” said LSU head coach Will Wade. “We look forward to giving our fans another opportunity to watch us play in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center and we hope they will support our players and what they have achieved this season.
“The selection of LSU to this year’s NIT says a lot about the progression of our program. It is a step in a direction that will only continue to move this program forward. It is exciting to be a part of post season play in our first season at LSU. We look forward to the challenges ahead as we face Louisiana-Lafayette in the opening round.”
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It’s the third time LSU has hosted an in-state school in the tournament. The Tigers played Tulane and UNO at home in 1982 and 1983 respectively, both losses. LSU is 4-8 all time in the tournament. Its last home game was in 2002, a 75-65 loss to Ball State in the second round.
#LSU's NIT history pic.twitter.com/hvXYZFKhBr
— Tiger Rag (@Tiger_Rag) March 12, 2018
Ticket info from LSU for NIT: "Tickets will go on sale by 9 p.m. CT Sunday at https://t.co/5x3oOikuD2 and over the phone at 225-578-2184 and in person at the LSU Athletics ticket office starting at 8 a.m. Monday. Fans are strongly encouraged to purchase tickets in advance."
— Tiger Rag (@Tiger_Rag) March 12, 2018
LSU is 36-10 all-time against the Cajuns and has won the last seven. Its last defeat to the school was in 1944, a 60-37 loss to then Southwest Louisiana. The Tigers took the most recent meeting in 2009, a 66-58 decision.
The game will look different than any other played in the PMAC this year. The 2018 NIT will feature four rules modifications:
- The three-point line will be extended by approximately 1 foot 8 inches to the same distance used by FIBA for international competition (22 feet 1.75 inches).
- The free throw lane will be widened from 12 to 16 feet, consistent with the width used by the NBA.
- The games will be divided into four 10-minute quarters as opposed to two 20-minute halves. Teams will shoot two free throws beginning with the fifth foul of each quarter.
- The shot clock will reset to 20 seconds after an offensive rebound instead of the full 30 seconds.
This is LSU’s first trip to the NIT since 2014, when the Tigers went 1-1, beating San Francisco on the road and losing to SMU on the road.
In 2015-16, LSU, under then-head coach Johnny Jones and led on the floor by freshman Ben Simmons, declined the opportunity to play in the NIT after a 19-14 season.
This year’s team was more than happy to play in the tournament, landing a No. 3 seed. Wade took over for Jones this season after LSU went 10-21 last season, winning just two SEC games and losing 15 games in a row, a program record. His first goal in year one was a winning season. With that in tow, postseason play was the next box to check.
Wade said after Thursday’s loss to Mississippi State in the SEC Tournament he was hoping for a home matchup in the first round.
“God knows we can’t win away from home. So hopefully, we’ll get a home game. We’re a bunch of homebodies. Hopefully, we’ll get a home game. That would be great. Maybe we can win that.”
Wade said after LSU’s win over Mississippi State to end the regular season he expected an NIT berth.
“I think we’re an NIT team,” Wade said. “I told my team that the other day, after the South Carolina game: ‘We tried to will ourselves into the NCAA Tournament, but this is who we are.’ The NIT would be a great step for us if we could get into that tournament. I think we’re good enough, if we got in there, to make a run and maybe get a chance to go to New York. That’d be a great year.”
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