After a different version of Selection Sunday, LSU’s nerve-racking wait for the NIT bracket produced relief.
The Tigers landed in the field of 32 for the first time since 2012 and will open as a No. 5 seed in the first round at No. 4 San Francisco at 9 p.m. CDT Wednesday.
“It’s tough because you’re sitting there on edge,” LSU caoch Johnny Jones said. “This year when we saw our name up on the board, it was an exciting time. It’s certainly little bit nerve racking.”
LSU submitted a bid to host a first-round game at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, but the Tigers did not get the nod. If they prevail against the Dons (21-11), they would move on to face No. 1 seed SMU (23-9) or UC-Irvine (23-11) in the next round.
“We’ll have to get to work tonight,” Jones said.
For the past 48 hours, LSU (19-13) had to sweat out late upheaval in mid-major and low-major conference tournaments that threatened to leave them on the stoop and a season that started with chatter of a NCAA tournament berth end with no postseason at all.
Still, the Tigers were nearly squeezed out after 13 regular-season champions, the most since 14 in 2011, were knocked out of their postseason tournaments and snagged automatic bids to the NIT.
The Tigers (19-13) went 9-9 en route to a seventh-place SEC finish and a No. 83 spot in the Ratings Percentage Index, according to CBS Sports analyst Jerry Palm’s latest simulation, with four losses to teams rated below No. 100 and a nonconference schedule deemed No. 170 in the country.
Yet the selection committee included the Tigers, whose last trip to the NIT ended with a 96-76 blowout as a No. 6 seed in a visit to third-seeded Oregon after LSU was one of the last teams slotted into the field.
“They looked and probably saw that we were one of those teams that challenged this year,” Jones said. “There’s some teams that were left out of the field altogether, so to be one of the teams (in the NIT) is something we’re really excited about.”