Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

March 19, 2013

Virginia secures a No. 1 position in NIT

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Virginia received a No. 1 seed Sunday night — in the “other” men’s basketball tournament.

The Cavaliers (21-11) join Kentucky, Alabama and Southern Mississippi at the top of the four brackets of the National Invitation Tournament.

Virginia hosts Norfolk State at 9 p.m. tonight at John Paul Jones Arena, where the Cavaliers are 18-1 this season.

Tennessee (20-12) is a No. 2 seed and hosts Mercer on Wednesday.

Kentucky (21-11), last season’s national champion in the NCAA tournament, won’t even get to host its first-round game.

The Associated Press reported on Monday that the Wildcats will play at eighth-seeded Robert Morris on Tuesday because Rupp Arena is unavailable to the Wildcats. The second and third round of the NCAA tournament is being played in Lexington.

The Cavaliers have been in the NIT 13 times, but not since 2006. Virginia won the tournament in 1980 and 1992 and has an overall record of 15-10 in the NIT.

Tony Bennett’s squad beat Duke, a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament, 73-68 on Feb. 28. They also had significant wins over North Carolina, 61-52 on Jan. 6 and Wisconsin, 60-54 on Nov. 28. The Tar Heels and Badgers are also in the NCAAs.

Virginia swept in-state rival Virginia Tech this season by scores of 74-58 and 73-55, and finished the regular season with a 61-58 overtime win against Maryland.

However, five days later, the Cavaliers were blown out by North Carolina State in the first round of the ACC tournament, 75-56.

Norfolk State, also 21-11 this season, dominated the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, going 16-0 in that league in the regular season, but getting upset by Bethune-Cookman in overtime in the MEAC tournament quarterfinals. This is the Spartans’ first NIT appearance.

The Spartans and the Cavaliers have met once before, with Virginia taking a 50-49 home win on a tip-in by center Assane Sene in December 2010.

Norfolk State upset second-seeded Missouri 86-84 early in last year’s NCAA tournament, then lost 84-50 to Florida.

Virginia’s Joe Harris was one of two players unanimously selected to the coaches’ all-ACC team announced on Monday. He averaged 16.9 points per game and was third in the league by making 43.2 percent of his 3-pointers.

Akil Mitchell averages 13 points and nearly nine rebounds per game for UVa.

The Spartans’ Pendarvis Williams, a 6-foot-6 junior, averages 14.2 points and 4.5 rebounds per contest.

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