The High Point University men's basketball team will play Minnesota on Tuesday in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT), it was announced on ESPNU on Sunday night. It's HPU's first appearance in the NIT and the Panthers' second-ever Div. I postseason appearance.
The first three rounds of the NIT are at campus sites with the semifinals and championship game at Madison Square Garden in New York City on April 1 and April 3. Minnesota is a No. 1 seed while HPU enters as a No. 8 seed. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN3.
High Point went 12-4 in Big South play to win the conference's North Division and the overall regular season title in 2013-14, earning the league's automatic berth to the NIT. HPU went 12-2 to finish the regular season and entered the Big South Tournament as the No. 1 North seed, falling to No. 4 South seed and eventual tournament finalist Winthrop on a buzzer beater in the quarterfinals.
HPU enters the NIT 16-14 overall after starting the season 4-11. High Point was the first team in Big South history to begin the conference schedule 0-2 and go on to win the regular season. The Panthers moved up to NCAA Div. I in 1999-2000 and made their first postseason appearance in 2012-13 in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
Head coach Scott Cherry is in his fifth season and was named Big South Coach of the Year, the first HPU coach to earn that honor. He has a 73-80 overall record in five seasons at High Point, including records of 33-28 overall and 24-8 in the Big South in the last two seasons.
High Point features redshirt-sophomore John Brown, who was named Big South Player of the Year and to the NABC All-District first team. Brown has averaged 19.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.7 blocks in 30 games this season. He was the first player in Big South history to score over 1,000 points before the end of his sophomore season. Junior guard Devante Wallace was named All-Conference honorable mention after leading the Big South with a 59.3 three-point percentage in conference games.
Big South teams have gone to the NIT five times since 2008 and the league is looking for its first NIT win. Last season, Charleston Southern went to Southern Mississippi and took a 78-71 loss.