LAFAYETTE — A day after the University of Louisiana at Lafayette men’s basketball team returned from the Sun Belt Conference tournament in New Orleans, representatives from three postseason tournaments reached out to gauge the school’s interest.
But the Cajuns only had eyes for one.
Coach Bob Marlin said Monday that the Cajuns signed a contract with the CollegeInsider.com tournament before they even left for New Orleans. The Cajuns would have been able to opt out of that contract had they won their conference tournament to earn an NCAA bid.
The Cajuns will host Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday in the Cajundome
“There’s a lot of familiarity with the CIT, since we’ve played in it before a couple of times,” Marlin said. “We’d had conversations with them last week before we left to go to New Orleans. The other two tournaments didn’t reach out to us until yesterday afternoon.”
There are a couple of things the Cajuns coach liked about the CIT compared to the other two tournaments — the College Basketball Invitational and the newly formed Vegas 16. The CIT has been around the longest, its field is larger, and it has a more traditional set up.
The CBI tournament championship is a three-game series, and the Vegas 16 tournament had a couple of different obstacles that made it unappealing to Marlin.
“It’s the first time that its taken place,” Marlin said. “It was a little bit more difficult for them to sign some teams than they had originally thought. They were hoping to get eight major schools, eight mid-majors.”
Only eight teams are participating in the inaugural Vegas 16 tournament.
“The problem with the Vegas tournament, for us, is you don’t start competing until (March 28),” Marlin continued. “It’s late. It goes right up until the Final Four.
“They’re trying to do it like a bowl season for football. You determine one site, you get your fans there, it’s going to be at Mandalay Bay in (Las) Vegas. But a $50,000 buy in, you play one game. And if you lose, you turn around and come back. We felt the CIT was the best option for us.”
Bye, bye, bye
The CIT is supposed to be played with a 32-team field, but this year’s version of the tournament will feature just 26 teams. That could have implications for the Cajuns.
Since the tournament is six teams shy of its usual field, three first-round winners will receive second-round byes. Those teams will be determined by Ken Pomeroy RPI rankings.
Currently, the Cajuns have the fourth-highest RPI among teams in the CIT field behind UC-Irvine, UT-Arlington and Columbia. If the Cajuns win Wednesday and one of those three teams loses, the Cajuns will receive a bye into the quarterfinal round.
If that happens, a team spokesman said Monday that the Cajuns are aiming to host that round as well.
Individual tickets for Wednesday’s game will be made available to the general public at 1 p.m. Tuesday. Season-ticket holders will get the first crack at tickets, as they can purchase their regular seats starting at 10 a.m. Tuesday.
Fans can purchase courtside seats for $30, first- and second-level seats for $15, second-level curve seats for $10 and student tickets for $7. The first 1,000 students will receive free admission with valid student identification.
One ticket will be good for both the men’s and women’s games, for fans wishing to see both teams play.
(Mid) major problem
Some notable midmajor schools were left out of the NCAA tournament after not winning their conference tournament, including Monmouth, which went 27-7 and won nonconference games against UCLA, Southern California, Notre Dame and Georgetown; and St. Mary’s, which went 27-5.
Marlin had a problem with that.
“I don’t like it at all,” Marlin said. “You can look at Little Rock in our league, would they have gotten in? Probably not, and they had four losses, they’ve got the best record in the country.
“I think it hurts the tournament, personally. … I understand how it works, but I don’t have to agree with it.”