Ohio State, VA Tech, Syracuse, Arizona State among NIT field
New York, NY (Sports Network) - Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Syracuse and Arizona State were the top seeds chosen to play in the 2008 National Invitation Tournament.
Also taking part will be the Florida Gators (21-11), who are the two-time defending NCAA Tournament champions, but were left out of the field of 65 earlier Sunday. Instead the Gators accepted a bid to take part in the NIT's field of 32.
Ohio State (19-13), which lost to Florida in last year's title game, will play UNC-Asheville on Tuesday in a first-round game. The Buckeyes faltered in the late going, losing five of their last seven games. Meanwhile, plenty of focus will be on the Bulldogs' (23-9) center Kenny George, who at 7-foot-7 and 360 pounds could provide an intriguing matchup for the Buckeyes.
Virginia Tech (19-13) will host Morgan State in the first round on Wednesday. The Hokies made a good case to be included in the NCAA Tournament following their two-point loss to top-ranked North Carolina in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament. However, Virginia Tech lost all six of its games against ranked teams this season.
The Hokies will be making their ninth all-time appearance in the NIT, having won the event in 1973 and 1995 and finished third in 1984.
Syracuse will play Robert Morris in the first round on Tuesday. It was an up- and-down season for Syracuse (19-13), which was eliminated by Villanova in the first round of the Big East tourney on Wednesday. The Orange aren't in the NCAA Tournament for a second straight year, and were beaten by Clemson in the NIT quarterfinals in 2007.
Arizona State (19-12) couldn't get into the NCAA Tournament partly due to its 9-9 record in the Pac-10. The Sun Devils, who lost in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament on Thursday to USC, will battle Alabama State in the first round of the NIT on Tuesday.
Florida is seeded second in the bracket with the Sun Devils. The Gators have a matchup with San Diego State on Wednesday.
"We're extremely happy with the opportunity we have to continue our season in the NIT," Florida head coach Billy Donovan said. "We look forward to continuing to develop and grow as a team."
Also in the Gators bracket, Creighton is the third seed and has a game against Oklahoma State on Tuesday. Southern Illinois is seeded fourth and will battle Oklahoma State the same night.
In addition to Syracuse, there will be three more games from that bracket on Tuesday. Second seed UMass plays Stephen F. Austin, third seed Florida State tangles with Akron, while the 4-5 matchup has Minnesota facing Maryland.
There are three other games from Virginia Tech's bracket on Wednesday. Ole Miss is the second seed and will match up with Cal-Santa Barbara. Nebraska is seeded third and will face Charlotte, while the 4-5 contest is between VCU and UAB.
There are three other Wednesday games from Ohio State's bracket. Illinois State is seeded second and meets Utah State, Dayton gets in as the third seed and plays Cleveland State, while Cal is fourth and goes against New Mexico.
West Virginia, last year's winner of the NIT, will play in the NCAA Tournament this year.
The tournament stays at campus sites until the scene shifts to New York, where the semifinals take place on April 1 and the championship game is slated for April 3 at Madison Square Garden.
03/16 22:21:46 ET