After a loss to Tulsa in the Conference USA tournament, Tulane men’s basketball coach Ed Conroy said he thought the Green Wave had a good chance to play in a postseason tournament.
He was right.
Tulane (17-16) will host Princeton (20-8) in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
The CBI is a 16-team tournament with a championship round that is best of three.
Princeton started and ended the year hot, winning nine of its first 10 games including a road victory against Penn State. After losing their first four Ivy League games, the Tigers rebounded to win eight of their last 10. Senior guard T.J. Bray averages 18.3 points, hitting 54.8 percent of his shots overall, and 42.0 percent from 3-point range.
If the Wave wins its opener, it will play the winner of Fresno State at UTEP on March 24.
Tulane played in the CollegeInsider.com tournament last year, losing in the second round. This is the first time the Green Wave has played in tournaments in consecutive years since making six in a row from 1992 through 1997, including the only three NCAA tournaments in school history.
“Back to back postseasons says a lot,” Conroy said. “I think we could have gone to either (the CIT or CBI), but I’m thrilled with this. It’s a great field, and I’m really proud of our guys for how hard they worked. This is a great reward for them.”
Tulane was picked near the bottom of Conference USA after leading scorers Josh Davis and Ricky Tarrant transferred at the end of the 2012-13 season along with 3-point specialist Ben Cherry and three other reserves. Although the Green Wave struggled against the top teams in the league, it finished .500 in the conference (8-8) for the first time in seven years, winning all but one game against opponents behind it in the standings.
The roster has seven scholarship freshmen and only two seniors: centers Tomas Bruha and Kevin Thomas.
“It’s a tremendous experience for our young guys,” Conroy said. “This preparation is no different than the NCAA tournament in how quick it turns around.”
The other pairings in the CBI are Stony Brook at Siena, Hampton at Penn State, Wyoming at Texas A&M, Morehead State at Illinois State, South Dakota State at Old Dominion and Radford at Oregon State.