NIT field: Kentucky must travel for opener

The SportsXchange

Kentucky was denied an opportunity to defend its national title by being left out of the NCAA Tournament field, and now the Wildcats won't even get to host a first-round game in the National Invitation Tournament.

Kentucky was named one of the four No. 1 seeds in the 32-team NIT field on Sunday, joining Virginia, Alabama and Southern Mississippi as top seeds in the four regions.

Kentucky will open against Robert Morris on Tuesday. Typically, the higher seeded team hosts early-round games, but because Rupp Arena is one of the sites for the NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats must travel to Pittsburgh for their opener.

Virginia will host Norfolk State in its first game on Tuesday, and fellow ACC team Maryland, a No. 2 seed, hosts Niagara that same day.

Southern Miss hosts Charleston Southern on Wednesday, and Alabama hosts Northeastern on Tuesday.

Other teams that failed to get an NCAA berth and were relegated to the NIT include Arizona State, Baylor, Tennessee, Massachusetts, Iowa and Louisiana Tech.

Stanford, which won the NIT last year, is back in the field this time.

Other first round games include Charlotte at Providence, Detroit at Arizona State, Long Beach State at Baylor, Louisiana Tech at Florida State, Washington at BYU, Mercer at Tennessee, Stephen F. Austin at Stanford, Ohio at Denver, St. John's at Saint Joseph's, Indiana State at Iowa, Stony Brook at Massachusetts.

Teams that won their regular-season conference title but failed to get an NCAA Tournament berth after losing in their conference tournaments received an automatic berth in the NIT.

The first three rounds will be played at campus sites of one of the teams involved. The semifinals and finals will be played at Madison Square Garden April 2 and 4.
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