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Cleveland State men's basketball team to face Xavier in 1st round of NIT

The all-Ohio matchup comes after the Vikings lost in the semifinals of the Horizon League tournament. Tipoff is scheduled for Tuesday at 9 p.m.

CLEVELAND β€” Cleveland State's men's basketball season will continue, just not where they wanted it to.

The Vikings found out Sunday they will head to Cincinnati to play Xavier in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament. CSU won the Horizon League co-championship for the second straight year, but lost to eventual champion Wright State in the semifinals of the conference tourney.

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Cleveland State (20-10) will make its first trip to college basketball's top secondary tournament since 2012, and earned the automatic consolation bid by virtue of being the No. 1 seed in the Horizon League Tournament. The Vikings were a 15-seed in the NCAA Tournament a year ago, losing to eventual Final Four attendee Houston by 29 points.

Now seeded seventh in their region, the Vikings will face 2-seed Xavier (18-13), one of the "next four out" of the "March Madness" field. The Musketeers enjoyed an impressive 11-1 start to the season that included a victory over in-state power Ohio State, but collapsed with six losses in the season's final seven games, including a heartbreaking overtime defeat to Butler in the opening round of the Big East tournament.

Despite both hailing from Ohio, this will be the first time Cleveland State and Xavier have ever met on the basketball court. Tipoff is scheduled for Tuesday at 9 p.m. from the Cintas Center.

Meanwhile, Dayton, Oklahoma, SMU and Texas A&M earned the top seeds NIT, part of a field that also includes recent national champions.

Virginia (19-13), which won its first national title in 2019, will host Mississippi State (18-15) in what could be the last game for Bulldogs coach Ben Howland, whose future with the program beyond the NIT is in doubt.

Howland is 134-97 in seven seasons at Mississippi State, with one NCAA Tournament appearance.

Florida (19-13), which won back-to-back national titles in 2006 and 2007, will face Iona (25-7) and coach Rick Pitino, who guided Kentucky to the national championship in 1996. Pitino also won a national title with Louisville in 2013, but the NCAA later vacated that result because of an escort sex scandal investigated during that period.

Dayton (23-10) will play at Toledo despite its top seeding because its arena hosts NCAA Tournament play-in games on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Flyers are making their 27th appearance in the field, most among 2022 invitees.

Among the other top seeds, Oklahoma (18-15) will host Missouri State (23-10 in the first round; SMU (23-8) will host Nicholls (21-11) and Texas A&M (23-11) will host Alcorn (17-16).

Only the top half of the 32-team field was seeded. The bottom 16 were placed in brackets as close to their area of natural interest as possible.

Texas A&M was considered a big snub by the NCAA Tournament selection committee. Other notable snubs in the NIT field include Wake Forest (23-9), which will host Towson (25-8); BYU (22-10), which will host Long Beach State (20-12); and VCU (21-9), which will host Princeton (23-5).

First-round games will be played March 15-16 and the second round from March 19-20. The tournament then moves to Madison Square Garden in New York for the semifinals on March 29 and the championship on March 31.

Over on the women's side, the 64-team WNIT bracket features two clubs from Northeast Ohio. While matchups have not yet been set, both Akron (17-11) and Kent State (18-11) will take part.

As for the Cleveland State women's team (19-8), the Vikes will be headed back to the Women's Basketball Invitational, which they won last year. Their opening game will be Friday against Northeastern.

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