A team not named NJIT at another team not named NJIT, 7:00 PM Eastern, CBS Sports Network
At the start of this season, we here at HOOPS HD decided that we wanted to adopt a team with a compelling story to follow all season long. It was not difficult for us to choose NJIT as that team, given that they were in the unique circumstance of being the nation’s lone independent. While we realistically thought that the Highlanders had a shot at a winning record and a berth in the CIT, we had no idea what an amazing and fun story they would become. On December 6, they shocked the college basketball world winning at then #17 Michigan. They played a great game at Villanova, knocked off Yale at home, and played solid basketball all season. Not only did the Highlanders get the CIT berth we wanted for them, but they earned three home games and three victories in the tournament, advancing all the way to the semifinals.
On Tuesday night, NJIT was finally sent on the road, out to Flagstaff, Arizona to take on the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks Despite holding a 12 point lead in the second half, NAU used the strength of the largest home crowd in its program history to rally and capture the game, advancing to the CIT championship game at Evansville tonight. The season is now over for Jim Engles’ team, though with the vast majority of the team back, including the likes of Ky Howard, Damon Lynn, Tim Coleman and Winfield Willis, there is no reason why NJIT will not only be a CIT caliber team next season, but could contend for a berth in the NIT if they remain an independent — and could contend for an NCAA berth if a conference picks them up.
With NJIT’s loss, despite the CIT and NIT title games being played tonight, Loyola-Chicago having won the CBI title last night, and the NCAA Final Four coming this weekend, the heart, the soul, and the team of the people is done. And with that the pieces I have written here almost every day since the beginning of December,, focusing in on the non-major conference teams, have also come to an end. I will be back next season as we follow another year of Under the Radar basketball. Have a great summer everyone, and be sure to keep following us here at HOOPS HD for offseason news, notes, analyses and our always fun podcasts.
Oh, by the way, the CIT championship game is tonight. Northern Arizona at Evansville, 7:00 PM Eastern on CBS Sports Network. Enjoy!