The Boston University men’s basketball team will host the University of Illinois in the opening round of the National Invitational Tournament, the tournament selection committee announced Sunday night. BU received a No. 7 seed in the field of 32 teams, while Illinois earned a No. 2 spot.
Due to the Fighting Illini’s (19-14) home court of State Farm Arena going undergoing renovations, the Terriers (24-10) will have the opportunity to hold the game at Agganis Arena. The matchup between the two teams is the only one in the NIT in which the lower seed has home-court advantage.
The contest will serve as the first time in program history that BU will host an NIT game and it will also mark the first Big Ten Conference opponent to visit Commonwealth Avenue since the University of Michigan took on the Terriers in 2006, a game that BU lost 51-46.
Both the Terriers and the Fighting Illini are coming off of demoralizing conference tournament losses, but for different reasons.
Last Wednesday, BU posted its worst offensive output of the season in a 55-36 loss to American University in the Patriot League Championship Game. The Terriers shot just 30.8 percent from the field and a lowly 5.9 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. A win would have guaranteed the Terriers’ first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since the 2010-11 season.
Conversely, Illinois fell to No. 8 Michigan in the final seconds of the quarterfinal round of the Big Ten tournament, 64-63 Friday in Indianapolis. With the Fighting Illini up by one with less than a minute remaining, the Wolverines (25-7) capitalized on an Illinois turnover, and forward Jordan Morgan drove the ball the length of the court and laid it in to give Michigan the victory. Guards Tracy Abrams and Rayvonte Rice each had 11 points and freshman Kendrick Nunn added 10 of his own in the losing effort.
In the regular season, Illinois finished eighth in the Big Ten, compiling a 7-11 conference record, while BU won the Patriot League regular season title with a conference record of 15-3.
At home, BU has a record of 11-5, with nine of those wins coming at Agganis Arena. On the road, the Fighting Illini have not been as sharp, compiling a a 5-6 road record.
Should BU pull off the win over the Fighting Illini, the team will face the victor of the matchup between No. 3 seed Clemson University and No. 6 seed Georgia Tech University in the tournament’s second round.