Lady Tigers are dancing; Men head to NIT

The NCAA selection committee made it official that the Lady Tigers will be playing at home in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center by awarding the program an at-large bid as the No. 4 seed in the West Region. <br><br> The LSU men's basketball team has earned a spot in the 40-team National Invitation Tournament and will travel to Norman, Okla., to face the University of Oklahoma in a nationally-televised first-round game on Wednesday night.

The Lady Tigers earned the bid with a 23-7 overall record and a second-place finish in the Southeastern Conference.

It was also announced on Sunday during the selection show that LSU will play No. 13 seed Austin Peay out of the Ohio Valley Conference, while No. 5 Miami (Fla.) (BIG EAST) and No. 12 Maryland (Atlantic Coast Conference) will also play in the Maravich Center in the first-round match-ups.

"I am not going to sit here and comment on who is number one, two, three, four, but talk about being in control," said acting head coach Pokey Chatman. "I know that we have a game on the 21st (of March) and it's going to be played at the PMAC, and I know that you guys (the fans) will be there. We'll talk about being in the moment and at the moment we are going to bask for a little while because a lot of times the energy that people have is that last game and that was against Vanderbilt and they forget that. This is a team (LSU) that lost three players to the draft, experience player Kisha James, also Patty Hanten. We were wounded in the post early on -- post by committee -- and long story short we went on to finish second in the best conference in the country. That's our potential and we haven't maximized that yet and that's what we are going to work on right now. We are definitely familiar with the West Coast route, and we have adjusted to the time. In my opinion we are going to do what we have to do in terms of getting ready for our opponent on the 21st."

The first-round games will be played on Sunday and the second-round game will be played on Tuesday. Times will be determined for the first- and second-round games no later than Monday evening.

Austin Peay, making their fifth appearance in the NCAA Tournament, posted a 23-7 overall record and earned the OVC's automatic bid by defeating Morehead State, Southeast Missouri and Eastern Kentucky in the conference tournament. The Lady Govs, located in Clarksville, Tenn., also won the regular season title.

Miami (Fla.), marking their sixth trip into the field of 64, were 22-6 overall and finished fourth in the BIG EAST, but bowed out of the BIG EAST Tournament in the second round to Boston College.

Maryland, marking the Field of 64 for the 13th time, posted an overall 17-12 record, finishing fourth in the ACC. The Terrapins advanced to the Semifinals of the ACC Tournament before falling to Duke.

LSU is hosting the first- and second-round games for the first time since 2000 when the team advanced to the Regional Final.

The team that advances out of Baton Rouge will travel to Seattle, Wash., for the West Regional Semifinals on March 27 and 29.

LSU and Oklahoma will play at the Loyd Noble Center at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN. The game will be carried on radio in Louisiana on the LSU Sports Network.

The Tigers are 18-10 on the season and 8-8 in the SEC Western Division, earning the second seed in the division.

The winner of the LSU-Oklahoma game would play the winner of Tuesday's Michigan-Missouri contest either March 20, 22 or 23. The Tigers are one of three SEC teams in the NIT. Tennessee will also play on Wednesday night at George Mason in an opening-round game and Georgia will play at Iowa State in a first-round game.

LSU's last appearance in the NIT came in 2002 and LSU opened the tournament that year with a nationally televised road win in Iowa City against the Iowa Hawkeyes.

The Tigers went through about 45 minutes of shooting drills before settling into the locker room area to watch the CBS show. The NIT committee is expected to announce its teams late Sunday as well as playing dates and times. Four or five early-round games will be televised by ESPN or ESPN2. The Tigers will be making their first NIT appearance since 2002 when LSU beat Iowa in Iowa City on ESPN in the first round and lost to Ball State in the second round in Baton Rouge.

"I think most of the time, you find yourself where you are by what you've done or what you didn't do," said LSU Coach John Brady after the selection show when he met with the media. "We had played ourselves into a situation where our team was at 7-3 (in SEC), a five-seed or better, provided everything stayed right. But it wasn't. It didn't happen that way. We did win a game at home against Ole Miss. We played Kentucky awfully well -- played them within four or six where it was a two-point game with 14 seconds to go. We weren't able to win on the road at Auburn and the South Carolina game got away from us in the last seven or eight minutes.

"I guess in the committee's mind, we weren't NCAA (Tournament) worthy. That's debatable. I've never experienced anything like this. I hurt for our team and our players. Anytime, you have (Matt) Freije at Vanderbilt, Lawrence Roberts at Mississippi State and Jaime Lloreda at LSU -- the three best players in the league. Anybody else who lost a player wasn't even any comparison to what happened to us. It would have been hard enough to replace a player of that caliber in the spring or summer to prepare for next year. We had to turn around and do it in a week or so with a young team. The positive thing about it, there are 100 odd teams still left playing college basketball in the country and we are one of those."

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