WKU will play three games in the 2014 NIT Season Tip-Off against opponents who all won at least 20 games and played in the postseason a season ago, including a Thanksgiving night contest at the iconic Madison Square Garden in New York City.
WKU will play at Minnesota on Tuesday, Nov. 18 on ESPN3 at 7:00 PM (CT), travel to Stony Brook on Tuesday, Nov. 25 at 6:00 PM (CT) and play Saint Joseph’s at Madison Square Garden on Thanksgiving night, Thursday, Nov. 27, on ESPNU at 5:00 PM (CT).
“Playing in this tournament will give our team a chance to face quality opponents early in the season,” head coach Ray Harper said. “All three of these teams had very successful seasons last year, and each game will be a challenge but come with an opportunity for us to earn key early-season victories. Playing in the legendary Madison Square Garden is something that every player, and every coach, dreams about, and we are very excited to be heading there on Thanksgiving night.”
Minnesota went 25-13 in 2013-14 and won the postseason NIT with a 65-63 victory over SMU. WKU and the Golden Gophers previously played in the 2010 Puerto Rico Tip-Off, which was a 95-77 Minnesota win. Minnesota is coached by Richard Pitino, who previously coached at FIU and was the head coach when WKU defeated the Panthers to win the 2013 Sun Belt Conference Tournament.
WKU and Stony Brook have never met on the hardwood. The Seawolves finished second in the America East last year and ended the season with a 23-11 record and lost in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational.
WKU holds a 6-3 advantage in the all-time series against Saint Joseph’s, but the Hawks have won three of the last four matchups including a 72-61 contest in Bowling Green on Nov. 11, 2011. Saint Joseph’s went 24-10 last year and advanced to the NCAA Tournament, where it lost to eventual national champion Connecticut in the second round.
The Hilltoppers have a long history in Madison Square Garden, starting with finishing as the postseason NIT runner-up in 1941-42. WKU is 18-21 all-time at the “World’s Most Famous Arena,” and this season’s game will be the first at the venue since 1986-87. In addition to nine appearances at Madison Square Garden in the postseason NIT from 1942-65, the Hilltoppers regularly traveled to the city in November or December to face Seton Hall, St. Francis or Long Island, among others, during the 1940s and 1950s.
WKU last played in the NIT Season Tip-Off in 2009-10, where it defeated Wisconsin-Milwaukee and lost to LSU in Baton Rouge, La., before returning home to defeat Cal State Northridge and lose to Indiana State.
The remainder of WKU’s 2014-15 schedule was announced in early August and features eight additional games against teams that played in 2013-14 postseason and an 18-game Conference USA schedule in its first season in the league. Highlights include a home game at E.A. Diddle Arena against in-state foe Louisville (Dec. 20) for the first time since 2010, the beginning of a four-year series with Belmont (Nov. 22) at E.A. Diddle Arena and a total of seven other games against teams that won at least 20 games a season ago.
2014-15 Preseason Prospectus Available: The 2014-15 WKU Hilltopper Basketball Preseason Prospectus is available and can be accessed at THIS LINK
2014-15 Ticket Information: Season ticket renewal forms have been mailed. Fans interested in purchasing season tickets can call the WKU Ticket Office at 1-800-5-BIG RED or 745-5222 locally. With the anticipation of a sellout against Louisville on Dec. 20, all season ticket holders are encouraged to order additional tickets for that game on their renewal form. Season ticket pricing will remain the same as last season, ranging from $99 to $299.
If tickets remain, there will be a three-game mini plan offered in September that includes a ticket to the Belmont, Chicago State and Louisville games for $75. WKU opens the regular season at home on Friday, Nov. 14 against Austin Peay after an exhibition game against Pikeville (Ky.) on Monday, Nov. 10.