CIT Game of the Day – Tuesday, March 31, 2015: NJIT at Northern Arizona

NJIT at Northern Arizona, 9:00 PM Eastern, CBS Sports Network

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The Final Four.  The National Semifinals.  The last four teams remaining, squaring off for a berth in the title game and an opportunity to cut down the nets and be crowned national champions.  This weekend, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Duke will square off for one such title.  But for us here at HOOPS HD, the real championship, the real Final Four, starts tonight.  It begins at 7:00 PM Eastern on CBS Sports Network when Evansville hosts Tennessee-Martin in the first of the two 2015 CIT semifinals.  Then, at 9:00, our adopted team, the Team of the People, the New Jersey Institute of Technology Highlanders face off in Flagstaff, Arizona with the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks for the second spot in Thursday night’s title game.

Northern Arizona enters the game tonight with a record of 22-14 on the season.  They have won at Grand Canyon, at Sacramento State, and by one point at home over Kent State in an overtime thriller to make the semifinal round.  22 wins already is a school record for the Lumberjacks.  In addition, their three postseason victories this season are their only postseason wins in program history.  NAU will look for its senior leaders, Quinton Upshur and Aaseem Dixon, to try to lead them to yet another victory and a shot at the title.

Standing in NAU’s way is the team that we adopted here at HOOPS HD at the start of the season.  NJIT entered the year as the nation’s lone independent, knowing that an NCAA tournament berth was pretty much an impossibility without any shot at an automatic bid.  We followed them game by game, campaigning hard for their inclusion in the CIT.  With a huge program-making win at Michigan back in December, followed by a stretch of winning 13 of 15 games to end the regular season, the Highlanders were rewarded with not only a berth in the CIT, but home games in the first three rounds.  They picked up thrilling victories over New Hampshire, Cleveland State and Canisius in those games in front of some of the loudest and craziest crowds that any team has had cheering for them all season.  Tonight, the Highlanders, led by Ky Howard, Damon Lynn, Winfield Willis and Tim Coleman, take their show on the road, needing yet another huge road victory to continue their magical season and have a shot at doing something truly amazing — winning a postseason tournament.  This is the true Final Four, the real national semifinal, and it should be a great game.

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