As expected, UL’s basketball team will be in a version of postseason plan and will take part in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament Wednesday, hosting Rice at the Cajundome.
But not expected was how quick the 7:05 p.m. game was announced.
UL and Rice got a jump on everyone -- the NCAA Tournament, the NIT, even CollegeInsider themselves -- and made the announcement of their game just after noon Friday. The CollegeInsider.com web site has a statement saying, “The field for the 2012 CIT will be officially announced on Sunday evening, March 11.”
But who can blame the Ragin’ Cajuns for not holding it in? A program that almost took postseason play for granted a couple of decades ago hasn’t played after its conference tournament since 2003.
“We are excited about playing in the CIT,” Cajun coach Bob Marlin said in a university release Friday. “It will benefit the program any time you get an opportunity to extend your season and play in a postseason tournament. It will be a good learning experience for the team and it will help us to continue to develop the program in the future.”
Marlin is hoping that development matches the previous CollegeInsider.com Tournament winners. Marshall won in 2009 and has been a fixture in the NCAA Tournament , and Old Dominion followed its CIT appearance in 2010 by making the NIT field last spring.“I have known the staff at CollegeInsider.com for a number of years and they are good people,” Marlin said in the prepared statement. They are good for college basketball, especially the mid-major schools, and they run a first rate tournament.”
The last time UL played a postseason game was a first-round NIT contest at UAB in 2003, falling 82-80. And the last time the Cajuns hosted a postseason game (1984), Ronald Reagan was in his first term as president, AIDS hadn’t been discovered and Apple was about to debut its computer for all time -- the Macintosh.
But it’ll happen Wednesday night, and while the rest of the country is focused on the NCAA’s and to a much lesser extent on the NIT, Marlin and the UL staff are hoping that Cajun fans will come out to see UL play one more time … and maybe more than that. If UL keeps winning, second-round games will fall between Friday-Sunday, quarterfinals and semifinals next week and a title game on Wednesday, March 28. All games are played at campus sites and home games will be determined after each round – and, yes, attendance in the early rounds will be a factor in awarding home games later in the 24-team tournament.
Tickets are on sale at the Cajundome box office and all TicketMaster outlets at $20 for courtside, $15 for first and second levels between the baskets and $10 for second-level end zone and all third-level seating. Students must purchase a $5 ticket since automatic ID entry is not available for postseason games. Hoops tickets will also be available at UL’s home baseball and softball games over the weekend, and may also be purchased online at www.ragincajuns.com.
The Cajuns go into Wednesday with a 16-15 record … not great, but it’s still the most wins since that 2002-03 season when UL was 20-10 and reached the NIT. That’s the level that Marlin wants the program to return in a hurry, and he and a lot of Cajun fans are hoping Wednesday night will be a first step.