Will Wade had two main goals in mind for his first LSU basketball team when the regular season began back in early November.
Both goals, he thought, were very attainable: Not having a losing season and earning a spot in a postseason tournament just one year after taking over a program that went 10-21 in 2017.
Wade’s team accomplished both.
LSU (17-14) secured a non-losing season last month and was rewarded Sunday night with a National Invitation Tournament berth and a home game.
Wade's team will face UL-Lafayette (27-6) at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. The game will be available online only at ESPN3.com.
The Ragin' Cajuns, which won the Sun Belt Conference regular-season title, was ousted in the semifinals of the league tournament by UT-Arlington on Saturday. Regular-season champions who don't receive an at-large spot in the NCAA tournament earn an automatic NIT bid.
Tickets are available at www.LSUtix.net and can be purchased by phone (225-578-2184) starting at 8 a.m. Monday. They can also be purchased at the LSU Athletics ticket office.
“The selection of LSU to this year’s NIT says a lot about the progression of our program," Wade said in a university news release. "It is a step in a direction that will only continue to move this program forward.
ST. LOUIS — Will Wade firmly believes his LSU basketball team deserves a spot at the National Invitation Tournament’s 32-seat table.
"We look forward to giving our fans another opportunity to watch us play in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center."
The NIT's 32-team field, which is made up of four eight-team quadrants, was announced about two hours after the 68-team NCAA tournament field was revealed.
LSU, which recorded five wins against teams with a top-50 RPI, is seeded third in its quadrant; UL-Lafayette is No. 6.
“We would certainly have liked to host the game, with the RPI 30 points better than theirs and the record a lot better,” UL-Lafayette coach Bob Marlin said. “But we’re excited we just have to make a short trip to Baton Rouge.”
The survivor of Wednesday night's matchup will play the winner of the first-round matchup between No. 2 Utah and No. 7 UC Davis.
LSU was one of two Southeastern Conference teams, along with Mississippi State, to earn spots in the NIT to go with a league-record eight NCAA tournament berths.
Last week, after it became apparent LSU was likely out of contention for an NCAA tournament bid, Wade notified NIT officials that he and his team would be “excited and fired up” about participating in their event.
By now, you’ve all seen and heard the slogan the Southeastern Conference adopted nearly two years ago.
Wade, who was reluctant to talk about his team’s postseason possibilities until it had secured a winning season, said playing in the NIT would be an important step in the development of his program going forward.
“I think from where we were last year to where we are now is a big improvement,” Wade said last week. “For us to continue to play in the postseason would be important."
LSU’s NIT invite comes two years after former coach Johnny Jones declined a spot in the tournament when his team, with future No. 1 NBA draft pick Ben Simmons, closed out a disappointing 19-14 campaign.
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LSU is in the NIT for the eighth time. The Tigers are 4-8 in the NIT, going 1-1 in their most recent appearance in 2014. They played both games on the road, defeating San Francisco 71-63 and falling to SMU 80-67.
It takes three wins to reach the NIT semifinals, which are March 27 in Madison Square Garden in New York. The semifinal winners meet in the championship game March 29.
The NIT bid will mark the fourth time in his five years as a head coach that Wade has led his team to the postseason.
Wade took Chattanooga to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament in 2014 and the past two seasons helped VCU land a berth in the NCAA tournament — reaching the round of 32 in 2016.
"It's exciting to be a part of postseason play in our first season at LSU," he said. "We look forward to the challenges ahead as we face Louisiana-Lafayette in the opening round.”