Marshall and Middle both got first round victories in their respective tournaments (NCAA, NIT) but suffered blowout losses in the second rounds on Sunday night. The Herd’s exit only means the NCAA Tournament is the only one without a C-USA entrant. WKU is in the NIT, North Texas is in the CBI, and UTSA is in the CIT.
Western Kentucky is still alive in the National Invitational Tournament after upsetting USC in Los Angeles late last night. Justin Johnson had 23 points and 7 rebounds to lead the Hilltoppers. WKU and USC traded leads and stayed close until the end when the Tops executed perfectly down the stretch and USC scrambled and fell apart. WKU was able to use up something like 20 seconds of the final half-minute as USC tried to foul, and then got an easy bucket that all but sealed things with less than ten seconds left.
Western moves on to play Oklahoma State in Stillwater on Wednesday night’s quarterfinals. The winner of that contest will play in the semifinals in Madison Square Garden in New York on March 28.
North Texas is into the next round and will host after destroying Mercer last night in the CIT second round.
Roosevelt Smart and Jorden Duffy both tallied 31 points as NT controlled Mercer from tip to buzzer. The Mean Green shot 55% and held a good Bear team — one who was favored by three — to 35% shooting. Grant McCasland’s group has been playing a quicker pace and a smaller line up that has blown out favored opponents in the first two rounds of the CBI. The bracket was re-seeded after each round and North Texas is slated to host Jacksonville State on Wednesday night.
Complicating things is the fact that last night Jacksonville, AL experienced a major storm that destroyed buildings all across the city and campus. JSU played their CBI game last night but in Central Arkansas.