Only three Palmetto teams in postseason
Shut out of the Big Dance for the first time since 1995 -- and judged unworthy even of the NIT -- the Palmetto State's Division I teams had to settle Sunday night for three bids to college basketball's lesser postseason tournaments.
But for Wofford, headed to the College Basketball Invitational, and Coastal Carolina and USC Upstate, both in the CollegeInsider.com tournament, those bids are a big deal.
Wofford made the NCAA tournament two straight years as the Southern Conference champion, but this season was picked to finish near the bottom of the SoCon's South Division after losing four starters, including SoCon player of the year Noah Dahlman.
Instead, the Terriers went 19-13 overall and 12-6 in the league, earning the No. 2 seed from the South Division.
A CBI game at Pitt on Wednesday will mean three straight post- season bids for Wofford seniors Brad Loesing, Kevin Giltner and Drew Crowell, a product of West Ashley High School.
Pitt had made 11 straight NCAA tournaments before going a disappointing 17-16 overall and 5-13 in the Big East this season.
Coastal Carolina (19-11) played in the NIT the last two years, and its Thursday game at Old Dominion in the CIT will mark the first time the Chanticleers have made the
postseason three years in a row.
"The team has done a lot of good things this season," said Coastal coach Cliff Ellis, "and is being rewarded for a second-place finish in one of the toughest years in the Big South."
Old Dominion, of the Colonial Athletic Association, went 20-13 this season.
"Old Dominion is a tremendous opponent playing in a conference that has sent two teams to the Final Four over the last six seasons," Ellis said. "I am familiar with the ODU program from when they played in the Sun Belt Conference and they have always been a strong opponent."
Old Dominion won the CIT in 2009 and is making its eighth straight postseason appearance.
USC Upstate, meanwhile, will play its first postseason game as a Division I member in the CIT. The Spartans, who joined Division I five years ago, were 20-12 overall and 13-5 in the Atlantic Sun Conference this year under coach Eddie Payne. USC Upstate will host Kent State on Thursday.
"We are very excited to be involved in postseason play," Payne said. "To play in the CIT will be a valuable learning experience for our young team."
Kent State was 21-12 this season, including an 80-73 loss to College of Charleston in a BracketBuster game.
No state teams made the 68-team NCAA tournament this year for the first time since 1995, and the 32-team NIT field also failed to include a team from South Carolina.