The second day of the NIT begins Wednesday with 14 teams competing to keep their seasons alive. A handful of schools, including No. 1 seed SMU, will be asked to put aside any residual pain and bitterness associated with their snubbing at the hands of the NCAA Tournament selection committee and focus on the task at hand.
Larry Brown's SMU team hosts 8-seed UC Irvine at 8:30 p.m in a surprisingly difficult draw for the Mustangs. The Anteaters -- the Anteaters! -- won the Big West regular season championship and came within four points of earning the conference's automatic NCAA Tournament bid.
The first slate of games tip off at 7 p.m., pitting Vermont against Georgia and Illinois against Boston University. Despite having the higher seed, the No. 2 Fighting Illini will travel to Agganis Arena in Boston to take on No. 7 BU. The Terriers' regular season Patriot League championship made them one of 13 automatic qualifiers for the NIT.
No. 7 Vermont, meanwhile, is a strong candidate to upset No. 2 Georgia in Athens. Despite the disparity in seeding, the Catamounts are ranked six spots higher than the Bulldogs in the KenPom rankings.
Both No. 3 Louisiana Tech Bulldogs and No. 6 Iona Gaels find themselves in the NIT after suffering tough losses in their respective conference championship games. Despite dropping the Conference USA championship game to Tulsa, Louisiana Tech still had a solid argument to make the NCAA Tournament with an at-large bid, but it's a moot point now. After Wednesday night, the winner of this matchup will still be playing basketball; the other won't.
Toledo vs. Southern Miss sounds like a pretty decent midweek college football game, but on Wednesday the two schools will meet on the basketball court to determine which one will advance to the second round of the NIT. In the pair of late games in California, No. 5 LSU journeys west to take on No. 4 San Francisco, and No. 7 Utah Valley visits Berkeley to challenge the No. 2 California Golden Bears.
Every game will be televised on the ESPN family of networks. Here's the complete schedule for Wednesday night (all times ET).
No. 2 Illinois vs. No. 7 Boston University - 7 p.m., ESPN2
No. 7 Vermont vs. No. 2 Georgia - 7 p.m., ESPNU
No. 6 Iona vs. No. 3 Louisiana Tech - 7:30 p.m., ESPN3
No. 6 Toledo vs. No. 3 Southern Miss - 8:30 p.m., ESPN3
No. 8 UC-Irvine vs. No. 1 SMU - 9 p.m., ESPN2
No. 5 LSU vs. No. 4 San Francisco - 10 p.m., ESPNU
No. 7 Utah Valley vs. No. 2 California - 10:30 p.m., ESPN3