For the first time in this or any other century, The Citadel’s basketball team will be playing at least one game beyond the conference tournament. It’s not the NCAA tournament, or the NIT, or even the CBI (although it may be more respectable than the CBI, quite honestly), but the CIT. The CIT?
That’s right, the CIT. It’s the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament, to be precise. It’s been around for quite a while…since January!
The teams participating all hail from non-power conferences, which isn’t a bad thing, in the sense that for most of them, this tournament will be seen as worthwhile. Also, unlike the CBI, every team in the field has a winning record (Oregon State got a bid to the CBI with a 13-17 record).
As you might imagine, the CIT has been rather hastily put together, as demonstrated by the scheduling of The Citadel’s opening-round game, against Old Dominion. ODU is hosting the game, which was originally slated for Wednesday night. Then it was apparently discovered that another commitment precluded the use of ODU’s arena on that day, so the game was quickly moved to Tuesday, but that posed a series of problems for The Citadel (mostly revolving around travel issues, from what I understand). It is now going to be played on Thursday night, at 7 pm. Luckily, there isn’t any other sporting event of national interest taking place on that day and night…
Old Dominion is one of three schools to have played in the NCAA, NIT, CBI, and CIT tournaments (along with Rider and Bradley). The Monarchs have played in the NCAA tournament nine times since joining Division I in 1976, winning twice. The second of those two victories was a memorable triple-overtime upset of 3-seed Villanova in 1995. ODU played in the NCAAs as recently as two seasons ago, losing to Butler in the first round.
In other words, this is a school with a recent tradition of success in hoops, including four 20-win seasons in the last five years. This season the Monarchs were 21-10 while playing in the rugged Colonial Athletic Association. It finished 12-6 in conference action before losing to conference champ Virginia Commonwealth in the CAA tourney semifinals. That was the third time the two teams had met during the season, with the home team winning the first two games. The Rams are the only common opponent for ODU and The Citadel, which lost at VCU 82-59 early in the season.
Old Dominion and The Citadel play at a similar pace (the Monarchs actually average fewer possessions per game than the Bulldogs), so this is not likely to be a track meet. ODU features 6’10” center Gerald Lee, a first-team All-CAA selection who averages 15.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. Lee was born and raised in Finland (his father is an American who moved to Finland to play pro basketball, explaining his American-sounding name). I look forward to listening to Darren Goldwater as he attempts to pronounce Lee’s hometown. Lee will be a difficult matchup for The Citadel. ODU has a lot of size in general. Eight different players average 16 minutes or more for the Monarchs.
ODU has solid stats across the board, including an excellent turnover rate, and generally good defensive numbers. The Monarchs do not shoot the ball particularly well from outside, and are a poor free throw shooting team (63.8%).
This is going to be a tough game for The Citadel. It will be interesting to see how motivated each team will be for the game. If the Bulldogs can contain Lee and shoot the ball well from three-point land, they have a shot. It will be a tall order, though.
Still, just the opportunity to have a tall order to fill is something to enjoy.