(Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
2017 NIT Bracket
PROVO, Utah – BYU basketball accepted an invitation to the 2017 National Invitational Tournament Sunday – a program record 12th-consecutive season with a postseason bid.
No. 3 seed BYU (22-11) will host No. 6 seed UT Arlington (25-8) Wednesday in the Marriott Center at 7 p.m. MDT. The game will be televised live on ESPN2 and broadcast live on the Cougar IMG Sports Network, KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM/1160 AM, BYU Radio and Sirius XM 143. The winner of Wednesday’s game will face the winner of No. 2 seed Houston and No. 7 seed Akron in the second round.
UT Arlington finished 25-8 overall and won the Sun Belt regular season title at 14-4. Kevin Hervey leads the Mavericks in scoring and rebounding at 17.1 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. Jalen Jones (12.4) and Erick Neal (10.4) also average double figures while Neal leads the team in assists at 6.4 per contest. Hervey was named the Sun Belt Player of the Year and earned first-team honors while Neal was also named to the All-Sun Belt Second Team.
Head coach Scott Cross, the Sun Belt Coach of the Year, is in his 11th year at the helm at UT Arlington. He has a career record of 202-147. This is the fifth postseason invitation the Mavericks have received under Cross, including an NCAA bid in 2008, a trip to the NIT in 2012 and two appearances (2013, 2016) in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
As a team, UT Arlington averages 77.3 points per game while shooting 45.8 percent from the field and 33.7 percent from downtown. Maverick opponents average 69.0 points and shoot 41.3 percent from the field and 31.4 percent from 3.
BYU coach Dave Rose has guided the Cougars to the postseason in each of his 12 seasons at the helm, including eight at-large bids to the NCAA tournament (2007-12, 2014 and 2015) and four to the NIT. In 2013 and 2016, the Cougars won three straight games in the NIT to reach the semifinals in Madison Square Garden.
This will mark BYU’s 13th appearance in the NIT. The Cougars have an 18-10 record in the NIT, including titles in 1951 and 1966. In addition to the title years, BYU has also played in the NIT in 1953, 1954, 1982, 1986, 1994, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2013 and 2016.
BYU has been led all season by sophomore big man Eric Mika, who has been named to the All-WCC First Team, the USBWA District VIII Player of the Year and to the CoSIDA Academic All-America Second Team. Mika averages 20.1 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks and has 17 double-doubles.
Freshman guard TJ Haws was also named to the All-WCC First Team in addition to being an All-WCC Freshman Team honoree. He is averaging 13.9 points and 3.2 assists and leads the team with 73 3-pointers, the second-most 3s all-time by a Cougar freshman.
Fellow rookie Yoeli Childs also earned All-WCC Freshman Team honors while averaging 9.4 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. He is second all-time among BYU freshmen in rebounds, field goal percentage and blocks.
Sophomores Nick Emery and Elijah Bryant round out the starting five. Emery averages 12.8 points and 2.9 rebounds while Bryant posts 11.7 points and 3.6 boards per game.
First round play for the NIT is scheduled for Tuesday, March 14, and Wednesday, March 15, with the second round running March 16-20. Quarterfinals will be held on March 21 and 22 and four teams will advance to New York City for the semifinals on Tuesday, March 28. The NIT will conclude with the Championship game on Thursday, March 30. The semifinal and championship games will be played at New York’s historic Madison Square Garden for the 80th year.
First round action, on campus sites, features number one seeds California, Illinois State, Iowa and Syracuse hosting CSU Bakersfield, UC Irvine, South Dakota and UNCG respectively.
Other first round games include Belmont at Georgia, Akron at Houston, Valparaiso at Illinois, Oakland at Clemson, Indiana at Georgia Tech, UT Arlington at BYU, Boise State at Utah, Richmond at Alabama, Ole Miss at Monmouth, College of Charleston at Colorado State, Colorado at UCF, and Fresno State at TCU.
NIT games are being televised by ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3. Additional NIT information can be found on www.NCAA.com/NIT.
Tickets for Wednesday’s matchup with UT Arlington will be available for purchase to select Cougar Club members beginning at 8 a.m. MDT Monday morning. The general public will be able to purchase tickets beginning at noon on Monday. Visit BYUtickets.com for more information.