Gonzaga To Host NIT Season Tip-Off

May 11, 2006

INDIANAPOLIS - Returning to the elements of its original format after 22 years, the NIT Season Tip-Off will move to a doubleheader "common site" format for the 2006 event. The tournament will begin in four regions with Gonzaga University slated to host the West Region at the Spokane Arena.

The other three regions include the East Region in Charlotte, N.C., South Region in Nashville, Tenn., and Midwest Region in Indianapolis. The format change will enable more fans to enjoy the event and guarantees participating institutions of at least two games. The announcement was made earlier today by NIT Committee Chair C.M. Newton and Greg Shaheen, president of the NIT, L.L.C.

"We've been examining this event for the past eight months and the importance of giving our teams an opportunity to play at least two games in regional sites show itself as a priority early in the process," Newton commented. "Going to regional sites and guaranteeing teams two games levels the playing field and just makes good basketball sense," he continued.

Gonzaga will be joined in the West Region by Baylor University, Colorado State University and Rice University. Games will be played on November 14 and 15 at the Spokane Arena. Gonzaga will face Rice in the first round with Colorado State and Baylor squaring off in the other game. The two winners will play for the right to advance to the NIT Season Tip-Off semifinal and championship doubleheaders slated for New York's Madison Square Garden on November 22 and 24.

"This is a great opportunity for our program and the city of Spokane," stated Mike Roth, Gonzaga Director of Athletics. "This is something our program has been working on for some time and we are excited about hosting the NIT first rounds in its new format."

Game times and ticket information will be released in the coming weeks, so fans are encouraged not to call the Gonzaga ticket office or the Spokane Arena until more information is released. ESPN's family of networks will telecast the tournament with coverage scheduled for at least 12 games.

The Bulldogs are coming off a 29-4 campaign advanced to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament. Gonzaga finished the season ranked fifth by the Associated Press. This will be Gonzaga's second NIT Season Tip-Off appearance. The Bulldogs have a 1-1 record from the 1998 NIT when they beat Memphis in the opening round and lost at Purdue in the second round.

Baylor posted a 4-13 record last season playing only a Big 12 Conference schedule as mandated by NCAA sanctions. This will be the first NIT appearance for the Bears who are coached by Scott Drew.

Colorado State will be making its second NIT appearance after going 16-15 last season with an 8th place finish in the Mountain West Conference. CSU lost to Washington in the 1991 NIT.

Rice is also making its second NIT appearance coming off a 6th place finish in Conference USA last season. Rice posted a 12-16 mark last year. The Owls lost to Minnesota in 1993 in their only other NIT appearance.

Match-ups in the other three regions include Indiana playing Lafayette and Butler playing Notre Dame in Indianapolis on Nov. 13 and 14. Tennessee will play Fordham and Belmont will face North Carolina Wilmington in Nashville on Nov. 13 and 14. North Carolina will play Sacred Heart and Winthrop will battle Iona in Charlotte on Nov. 14 and 15 to round out the tournament field.



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