The Long Beach State men’s basketball team travels to Waco Texas to meet the Baylor Bears in the first round of the National Invitational Tournament Wednesday. Long Beach will be the 7th seed, and Baylor, the 2nd seed. Tipoff is at 6pm PDT and will be televised on ESPN2.
This is the third consecutive year that the Beach(19-13) has made the postseason, a feat no other 49er team accomplished since it qualified for four consecutive NCAA tournaments from 1970-1973.
The Beach is 2-6 overall in NIT appearances, its most recent appearance two years ago a loss to Washington State.
Long Beach has played Baylor four times in the past with the series tied 2-2. The two teams last met in 1979 which Baylor won 87-80.
"Baylor (18-12) is a solid team, with one of the top big men in the country in Isaiah Austin. We know they have good players and are a national-caliber program,” Monson said. “It’s going to be a tough game, but as a competitor, our guys have to step up and focus on this opportunity to go out and continue our season. Hopefully our team will have that mindset on Wednesday."
Other teams in Long Beach’s bracket include defending national champions Kentucky, Arizona State, and Providence. Should the 49ers advance, they will face the winner of the ASU/Detroit matchup.
The womens’ team also earned an at-large bid and will host the Utah Utes Wednesday evening.
The Beach is one of four Big West Teams to be invited to the WNIT, the other three being Pacific (who earned and automatic bid), UC Santa Barbara and Hawaii (who also received at-large bids.)
"It is an honor and absolute thrill to play in the postseason," LBSU head coach Jody Wynn said. "We are thankful for the opportunity to play in the WNIT. It will be a terrific experience for our young team and we are looking forward to taking the court together again."
This is the third time the Beach has been in the postseason, and the first since 2000 when they made it to the third round. The Beach was also made the tournament back in 1978.
The two teams have met five times, with the Utes leading 3-2 and winning the last three meetings, most recently a 74-46 victory in 2007. Long Beach was 2-1 against the PAC 12 this year, winning against Washington and Arizona and losing to then #1 Stanford.