St. John's earned a #1 seed in the NIT Tournament. They will start they journey back to Madison Square Garden as a likely favorite in all of their games on Tuesday, against giant-killer Robert Morris University of the Northeast Conference. The team begins play at 7:00 PM on Tuesday (ESPNU); the goal for the Red Storm will be to get to the semi-finals and finals, played in Madison Square Garden.
"We're glad we got the No. 1 seed so that we can play at home and we're going to try and win out," said D`Angelo Harrison. "It's all home games for us so that's a big advantage and we're looking forward to it.”
RMU, from Pittsburgh, knocked off Kentucky at home (scheduling issues forced the UK Wildcats on the road) in the first round of last year's NIT. The Colonials were 14-1 in their conference, winning the regular season title, but fell to Mount St. Mary's in the conference tournament final. They are led by the volume-shooting senior Karvel Anderson, who averages 19 points per game and 45% on three-point shots.
St. John's will need to shrug off the disappointment from missing the NCAA Tournament after such preseason promise and concentrate on winning the NIT with the junior-laden team.
"My father played in the NIT's so I have an appreciation for the history, the heritage, what it represents in college basketball history," Steve Lavin said after the selection show on ESPN.
St. John's has played in the NIT 29 times, but the Red Storm's 2003 NIT title was vacated by the NCAA in 2006 due to player eligibility complications. Aside from 1944-45 (back-to-back titles under coach Joe Lapchick) and 2003, St. John's also won the NIT in 1959, 1965, and 1989. St. John's has 41 official victories in the tournament.
St. John's seeding indicates they had a real chance to make the NCAA Tournament with a win over Providence last week Thursday; though Providence's seeding indicates that they would have wanted to make the Big East final to be sure.
Minnesota is the number one overall seed in the NIT.
Second-round games would be played between March 20-March 24 (Thursday-Sunday); the second-round opponent would be very challenging mid-major teams Wisconsin-Green Bay from the Horizon league (with an NBA prospect center Alec Brown and dynamic guard Keifer Sykes) and the hot-shooting Belmont Bruins (with longtime coach Rick Byrd).