Nebraska Earns Postseason NIT Berth

After a strong finish to the regular season and a solid showing at the Big 12 Championship last week in Kansas City, the Nebraska men's basketball team found out Sunday night that its season was extended as the Huskers were selected to host a first-round game in the 2008 Master Card National Invitation Tournament (NIT).

Nebraska earned a No. 3 seed in the 32-team postseason NIT and will face No. 6 seed Charlotte in the first round on Wednesday, March 19. Nebraska and the 49ers will tip off at 8 p.m. CST at the Bob Devaney Sports Center and the game can be heard on the Husker Sports Network and on Huskers.com, while ESPN Classic will also televise the game.

Tickets for Wednesday's game will be available on Sunday night on Huskers.com or fans can purchase tickets during regular business hours this week at the Nebraska Ticket Office across from Memorial Stadium or by calling 1-800-8BIGRED. Reserved seats in the B section will be available for $12, C Section chairbacks are $10 while upper benches are $5. UNL students can also purchase reserved seats in the reserved student section for $4.

Nebraska is making its third postseason appearance in the last five years (all in the NIT) and first under Coach Doc Sadler, who owns a 36-26 record in two years in Lincoln. Overall, it is Nebraska's 21st all-time postseason appearance including the 15th selection to the NIT field. NU holds a 22-13 record in its previous 14 NIT appearances, including a 5-4 record during the Big 12 era.

The Huskers own a 19-12 record this year, including three victories over ranked squads and six over teams that were ranked in the top 100 of the RPI on Selection Sunday. Nebraska owns a 4-7 record this season against NCAA Tournament teams and a 1-2 record against teams selected for the NIT. Overall, six Big 12 Conference schools were invited to the NCAA Tournament while Nebraska and Oklahoma State also earned bids to the NIT.

"I think any time you can extend your season and give your players a chance to compete for a championship, that's another step forward for your program," Sadler said. "Our goal every year is to be playing in the NCAA Tournament, so we're disappointed we did not reach that goal. But I think this team is deserving of playing past the regular season and everyone is excited to have a chance to work for a championship."

Nebraska will be searching for its 12th, 20-win season in program history as it begins postseason play on Wednesday against Charlotte. The Huskers' 19 wins tie for the most wins by an NU squad since 1999 when NU went 20-13. Nebraska also earned 19 wins, including a pair in the conference tournament, in 2006, the last time the Huskers reached postseason play.

The biggest key to the Huskers' efforts this season has been All-Big 12 center Aleks Maric. The Sydney, Australia, native is making his second career postseason appearance after leading Nebraska with 15.9 points and 10.2 rebounds per game this season while hitting 57.8 percent from the floor. The most decorated Husker in recent years, Maric is one of the top players in history of the Big 12 Conference as he has 1,603 points and 995 rebounds in his career. With five boards in the postseason, Maric will become only the third player in the Big 12 era with at least 1,600 points and 1,000 rebounds.

Along with Maric, a number of players have stepped up over the course of the season while helping Nebraska to a 7-9 record in league play and a seventh-place finish in the conference standings after being selected 10th or 11th in the preseason polls.

Junior guard Steve Harley is second on the squad with 9.2 points per game, but has averaged 11.9 points per game on 50.0 percent shooting in the past nine games. Sophomore guard Ryan Anderson has been a significant contributor with 8.6 points and 5.6 rebounds per game and leads the team with 48 3-pointers this season, while another junior college product, junior guard Ade Dagunduro, has posted 8.5 points per game.

As a team, the Huskers are among the national leaders in defense, ranking 14th in scoring defense and 31st in field-goal percentage defense entering last week. Nebraska has allowed just 60.3 points per game this season on 40.0 percent shooting. Non-conference opponents have not fared as well, averaging just 54.3 points on 35.4 percent shooting against the pesky Husker defense this season.

The winner of the Nebraska/Charlotte game will advance to face the winner of the Mississippi/UC Santa Barbara game winner. The date and time for a second-round matchup for Nebraska or Charlotte will be announced following the Huskers' matchup on Wednesday. Games begin with the first round on March 18-19 at on-campus sites. The second round will take place on March 20-22 and March 24 while the quarterfinals will be March 25-26.

Teams that reach the NIT final four will play at Madison Square Gardens in New York, with the semifinals taking place on April 1 while the final will be played on April 3. The semifinals will be televised nationally on ESPN2 at 6 and 8 p.m. CST and the final will be shown on ESPN at 6 p.m.


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