CIT Championship Preview: Yale at Murray State

Yale at Murray State, Thursday April 3, 7:00 PM Eastern, CBS Sports Network

It is finally here.  The Championship.  The final game.  One game to decide who gets to hang the banner be forever remembered as the team that won it all in 2014.  Well, who won the 2014 CIT at least.

Thursday night, the Ivy League’s Yale Bulldogs travel to the CFSB Center in Murray, Kentucky to take on the Ohio Valley Conference’s Murray State Racers for the championship of the 2014 Tournament.  Yale is 19-13 on the season entering tonight’s game while Murray State holds a 22-11 record.  All told, Yale has had a much tougher road to this title game, and it remains to be seen whether they have enough left for one more road win.

Yale opened the CIT with a one point home win over Quinnipiac, and followed that up with three straight road victories, at Holy Cross, at Columbia, and at VMI.  Murray State, on the other hand, has only had to travel out on the road once in the entire tournament.  The Racers opened the CIT with a three point road victory at Missouri State.  They have been able to stay home since then, winning by double digits over Nebraska-Omaha, Towson, and Pacific.  Clearly, the Racers are the favorites tonight to keep up their home-court wining streak (in fact they only lost one home game all season, and that was back in late November to Middle Tennessee).

The winner of this game will be the 2014 CIT champions.  They will join Old Dominion (2009), Missouri State (2010), Santa Clara (2011), Mercer (2012), and East Carolina (2013) as the only teams to have CIT championship banners hanging at their home courts.  And in the end, while both Yale and Murray State came up short in their attempts to earn an NCAA tournament bid this season, there will be a question that will remain unanswered.  Is a season more of a success if a team earns an NCAA bid just to be eliminated in the first round of the Big Dance, or is it more of a success if it ends with a victory in a national tournament, such as the NIT, CBI or CIT?  Either Yale or Murray State will be able to claim the later at the conclusion of this game.

CIT Game of the Day – April 1, 2014

YALE at VMI, 7:00 PM Eastern, CBS-Sports Network

We have reached April, and not only is the NCAA tournament down to its Final Four, but so is the CIT.  The semifinals will be played tonight, nationally televised on CBS Sports Network.  The late game (9:00 PM Eastern) will feature the Pacific Tigers traveling to Kentucky to take on the Murray State Racers.  However, our game of the day comes from Cameron Hall in Lexington, Virginia as the VMI Keydets out of the Big South conference host the Ivy League’s Yale Bulldogs.

Yale was the second place finisher in the Ivy League this season, and following three wins in the CIT so far is now sitting at 18-13 overall on the season.  The Bulldogs run to the CIT semifinals has been by far their best postseason showing ever.  Prior to this year, Yale in fact only had one postseason win to its program’s credit, a first round win in the NIT back in 2002.  After surviving a battle with Ivy League mate Columbia in the quarterfinals, the Bulldogs look tonight to advance to their first ever championship game in a national postseason tournament.

VMI is also looking to extend its season tonight.  The Keydets three CIT wins have brought their overall record to 22-12.  They play an exciting fast-paced brand of basketball that gives them a good chance to score in the triple digits every time out.  VMI’s appearance in the CIT this season was the first postseason berth for the school since its last NCAA appearance in 1977.  Of course, VMI had a couple of pretty good teams back in the mid-70s, including their 1976 team that lost to Rutgers in the East Regional final.  Since 1977, however, this has clearly been the Keydets most successful season and, like Yale, they want nothing more than to keep winning and have a chance to hang that championship banner with wins both tonight and on Thursday night in the title game.