TUSCALOOSA The University of Alabama is one of the 32 teams selected to participate in the 2007 NIT championship tournament field. The NIT announced its 2007 field on ESPN2 Sunday night at 8 p.m. CT.
Alabama, 20-11, is seeded fifth and will travel to four seed UMass, 23-8, to play on Tuesday, March 13 at 8:30 p.m. CT. ESPN will televise the game. The winner of that game will play the winner of the Delaware State, 21-11, at West Virginia, 22-9, game. The second round game will be on Thursday, March 15 at 8 p.m. CT and will be televised on ESPNU.
“It’ll be a tough challenge, obviously, for us to go on the road and play at UMass but I think our players will be excited about the opportunity to keep playing,” said Alabama head coach Mark Gottfried. “We practiced today. I thought we had a good practice today. I thought our guys seemed very, very excited. I think UMass is a terrific team. I know Travis (Ford) really well. He has done a phenomenal job there. They’re very, very good.”
The game marks only the second time Alabama and Massachusetts have played one another in college basketball. The first meeting was in 1966 in a tournament hosted by Virginia Tech. Hayden Riley’s Alabama team won that game 79-73.
Alabama’s inclusion in postseason play marks the eighth time in his nine seasons that Mark Gottfried has advanced the Crimson Tide to postseason play, as five of those trips were to the NCAA tournament (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006) and three in the NIT (1999, 2001 and 2007). The last time Alabama participated in the NIT Championships was in 2001 when Gottfried’s UA team advanced to the tournament’s championship game where it fell to Tulsa 79-60 in Madison Square Garden. The following season, 2002, Alabama won the Southeastern Conference Championship and began a string of five consecutive NCAA appearances.
This is Alabama’s 10th all-time NIT appearance, advancing in 1973, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1993, 1996, 1999, 2001 and 2007. It has made it to the NIT’s Final Four five times, in 1973, 1977, 1979, 1996 and 2001.