Washington accepts CBI invitation

SEATTLE - Washington, who finished eighth in the Pac-10 conference this year, has accepted a bid to play in the inaugural 16-team Collegiate Basketball Invitational Sunday evening. The Huskies were named as a No. 1 seed, and will play No. 8 seed Valparaiso Wednesday at Bank of America Arena. The game will be played at 6 p.m. and will be shown on Fox College Sports.

The College Basketball Invitational - who is the brainchild of The Gazelle Group, producers of the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer, the O'Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic and the Legends Classic - will be a single-elimination tournament, up until the Championship Series, with all games being played at campus sites. The Championship Series will be a best of three series, home-away-home, in which the higher seed will get the first and last (if necessary) home games.

"We're excited that we still have an opportunity to play," Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said. "It's an opportunity for our seniors to continue to play. We get to practice more and be together more. We're excited that they want us to be a part of it."

The event will feature eight first-round games, four second-round games, a semifinal round and then a Championship Series. The opening round of the event will take place March 18 and 19, with the winner of each opening round game advancing to the round of eight on March 24. The semifinals will be held on March 26, and the Championship Series will take place on March 31, April 2 and April 4.

"It's an interesting twist," Romar said of the best-of Championship series format.

To view the entire CBI bracket, click here. The CBI was created to fill the void set up when the NCAA took over the post-season NIT tournament and pared the total number of NIT entrants from 40 to 32. The NIT is also now required to automatically invite all conference winners that did not win their conference tournament. There were nine such teams for the 2008 NIT.

"There's always a number of teams that are worthy of post-season play but for some reason don't get a chance," Romar said. "This just gives them an extra opportunity to prove their case."

The Huskies (16-16) practiced Sunday afternoon, right after watching the NIT selection show. watched NIT right before practice. "It wasn't like last year," Romar said. "We didn't anticipate really being in it, so no one was really disappointed."

California was given a bid to the 2008 NIT, despite finishing ninth in the Pac-10. It was clear in hearing Romar's thoughts that he still hasn't figured out why the Huskies were snubbed from the 2007 after UW compiled a 19-13 season mark.

"If we didn't make the NIT last year, I don't know when we would ever get in," he said.

Valparaiso (21-13) finished fourth in the Horizon League, with Butler winning their conference. The Crusaders' are best known for their buzzer-beater win over Mississippi in the first round of the NCAA tournament 10 years ago.

If the Huskies win their first-round game, they would play the winner of the other West bracket game between Houston and Nevada. And if they make it out of the West bracket, they would face the winner of the East Regional, which consists of Virginia, Old Dominion, Rider and Richmond. Itah, UTEP, Tulsa, Bradley and Cincinnati are some of the other teams that are in the Midwest and South brackets.

"If you aren't in the Big Dance, a tournament like this is great," Romar said. "It has its positives to it. For the seniors it's great to play additional games. And for everyone coming back, it's a benefit. Anytime you can play extra games, it's going to help you. And it's not only games, it's a tournament."
Brockman still iffy: Romar confirmed that junior forward Jon Brockman did not practice Sunday and that Brockman is officially 'day-to-day'. The second-team all-Pac-10 and All-District pick nearly averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds a year for the Huskies before rolling an ankle at the end of a 76-73 double-overtime loss at Washington State. "I would say he's day-to-day," Romar said of Brockman. "Now he walks pretty normal, but he just can't cut. But each day, progress can be made."

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