Rumored WKU basketball preseason NIT opponents


What once was looking like a great opportunity for WKU basketball has slowly become less and less, and that news was confirmed as ESPN’s Andy Katz and BG Daily News’ Chad Bishop.

What was originally intended to be a 16 team full on preseason tournament, as it has been in years past, is now only down to eight, and instead of a tournament, it’ll be more so a feature showcase – or, I suppose the word that Katz uses in “classic” is more apt – with pre-determined matchups scheduled for what would have been the semi-final dates.

The Hilltoppers will play in two games as a part of the classic (or, the case very well may be, a game was scheduled with each of the eight teams and isn’t officially apart of the NIT at all – just another non-conference game with another team that was originally scheduled to participate, and will do so as well). Their first game will take them to the Land of 10,000 to face the Minnesota Golden Gophers, who are lead by Rick Pitino who WKU defeated in the 2013 Sun Belt championship game when they came back to defeat FIU. It’ll be WKU’s first ever game in the state of Minnesota, and it’ll be the first meeting since 2010 when the Gophers topped the Hilltoppers 95-77 in Puerto Rico (which is the only meeting of the two schools to this point).

The Tops will then head to Madison Square Garden in New York City and will play a Thanksgiving day game against Saint Joseph’s, who lost as a #10 seed in last years’ NCAA tournament to eventual champion UCONN. WKU holds a 6-3 all time record over the Red Hawks, but the last meeting in 2011 ended in a 72-61 defeat.

The other five teams participating this year are the Georgia Bulldogs, St. John’s Red Storm, Gonzaga Bulldogs, LIU Blackbirds and Stony Brook Seawolves. Gonzaga vs. Georgia and Minnesota vs. St. John’s are the two pre-set semi-final matchups, and LIU vs. Stony Brook will play on Thanksgiving along with WKU/SJU in the MSG doubleheader.

How do you feel about the format change? Are you happy with the teams the Tops’ are scheduled to take on? What would you change about the schedule? Let us know below or on twitter at @WaveTheRedTowel.