CHAMPAIGN — For the first time since 2008, Illinois will not be participating in a college basketball post-season tournament.
Illinois was not among the 32 teams invited to participate in the 75th annual National Invitation Tournament when those pairings were announced Sunday evening, about three hours after the 68-team NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament bracket was unveiled.
After losing to Iowa in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday, coach Bruce Weber said he felt Illinois (17-15) was on the NIT bubble. That was less than 24 hours before Weber was fired and assistant coach Jerrance Howard was named interim head coach.
After Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Purdue were named to the NCAA Tournament, three more Big Ten Conference teams were added to the NIT.
Northwestern is a No. 4 seed and will host Akron on Tuesday night.
Minnesota is a No. 6 seed and will travel to LaSalle on Wednesday.
And Iowa got in as a No. 7 seed and will host Dayton on Tuesday.
Also named to the NIT field as a No. 7 seed was Illinois State University. The Redbirds, who reached the championship game of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, will travel to Mississippi for a Wednesday night game. That game begins at 8:30 p.m. and will be televised on ESPNU.
First-round NIT games are played Tuesday and Wednesday.
Second-round games are played March 15-19.
Quarterfinal games are played March 20 and 21.
The final four teams gather at Madison Square Garden where semifinal games will be played March 27 and the championship will be decided March 29.