Huskers Earn NIT Bid and Will Face Hofstra

The Nebraska men's basketball team earned its second postseason berth in three seasons when the 40-team field for the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) was announced Sunday night. The Huskers are the No. 6 seed in the region and will face No. 3-seed Hofstra in Hempstead, N.Y., on Thursday, March 16 at 6 p.m. (central). It will be the first-ever meeting between the teams.

The Huskers will be making their 20th all-time postseason appearance and second under coach Barry Collier. Nebraska owns a 22-12 record in 13 NIT appearances, and is 22-18 overall in postseason competition.

"This is a great opportunity for this team to keep playing together and continue to improve," Collier said of the NIT berth. "It's always a good thing when you can reach postseason play. Our top goal each year is to get to the NCAA Tournament, but when that doesn't happen, you are glad to still get another chance at getting back on the court in the NIT.

"The guys who were here two years ago and played three extra games in the postseason benefitted from those extra practices and competition. That's been beneficial to us this year because that included our current seniors and a junior, who have all been key to our success this season.

"Hofstra has had a tremendous year, including a 13-0 record at home and just missed the NCAA Tournament. They have excellent balance and it should be a great challenge."

Nebraska enters the postseason after reaching the Big 12 Championship semifinals for the second time since the formation of the league. The Huskers defeated Missouri, 71-64, for their first win at the league tourney since 1999 and then handled No. 22/19 Oklahoma, 69-63, in the quarterfinals before falling to No. 17/18 Kansas in the semifinals.

The Huskers will be looking to secure their 12th, 20-win season in program history when they take on the Pride. Nebraska enters postseason play with a 19-13 record on the season, marking the most wins by a Husker squad since 1999 when NU went 20-13. Nebraska finished Big 12 Conference play with a 7-9 record, good for a sixth-place finish in the league standings.

Nebraska is led by a pair of seniors in forward Wes Wilkinson and guard Jason Dourisseau.

A Grand Island, Neb., native, Wilkinson paces the team with 12.0 points per game and leads the squad with 61 3-pointers and 61 blocked shots. He is also third on the team with 6.3 rebounds per game. Dourisseau, a native of Omaha, Neb., is second on the squad in scoring (11.2 ppg) and rebounding (7.3 rpg) and leads the team in field-goal percentage (48.2) and is tied for the team lead in steals (34).

A pair of underclassmen have also played increasingly larger roles for the Huskers as the regular season went on.

Sophomore center Aleks Maric, a 6-11, 265-pounder from Sydney, Australia, was the leading rebounder during Big 12 Conference play and paces the team with 8.0 boards per contest this season. Maric, who is third in the league with 10 double-doubles, gives Nebraska a third double-figure scorer by averaging 11.0 points per game. A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., freshman guard Jamel White has averaged 8.5 points per game this season, but produced 10.1 points per contest in league action.

Maric earned honorable-mention All-Big 12 honors from the coaches and AP and Wilkinson joined him on the coaches squad. Wilkinson was also named to the Big 12 All-Underrated Team as selected by sportswriters who cover the league, while Maric was selected to the all-improved team. White was the second Husker rookie in two seasons to be named to the Big 12 All-Freshman Team and was selected to the all-reserve team despite starting 12 of the past 13 games.

For the first time in the 69 years of the NIT, the field is being seeded into four, 10-team brackets, and in most cases the higher seed will play host to the contest. Games begin with the opening round and first round on March 14-17 at on-campus sites. The second round will take place between March 17-21 while the quarterfinals will be March 21-24.

Teams that reach the NIT final four will play at Madison Square Gardens in New York, with the semifinals taking place on March 28 while the final will be played on March 30. The semifinals will be televised nationally on ESPN2 at 6 and 8 p.m. CST and the final will be shown on ESPN.

2006 NIT Bracket

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