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Back to the Garden?: TCU Basketball earns #1 seed in the NIT

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The Frogs will face Sam Houston State at home Wednesday night.

More basketball means more Bane. And that’s a good thing.
Melissa Triebwasser

TCU Basketball isn’t done yet.

After the disappointment of not making the NCAA Tournament, the Frogs have to change their mindset and get ready for the NIT, having earned a #1 seed and the opportunity to keep playing at home. The Frogs will face off with Sam Houston State; the Bearkats went 21-11, including 16-2 in the Southland Conference, running away with the regular season title before being upended by New Orleans in the conference tournament. They earned an automatic bid to the NIT by virtue of their regular season title.

The Frogs will host the Kats Wednesday night at Schollmaier Arena, with the opportunity to continue their season on their home floor, with tip-off set for 8:00pm on ESPNU. The additional games are an opportunity to send seniors Alex Robinson and JD Miller on a positive note, as well as to allow young players like Kendric Davis, Kevin Samuel, and RJ Nembhard to experience postseason basketball. The extra practice time is invaluable as well for Jamie Dixon’s squad - all but two of whom will be returning next season. TCU will also be fighting for the right to return to Madison Square Garden, to play on one of basketball’s biggest stages, and to take home their second NIT Championship in three seasons.

Despite being disappointed to not make the March Madness field, TCU will be ready to play, according to Alex Robinson. “It’s basketball. We all love basketball. We have been through a lot this year - a lot of controversy, a lot of lineup changes, people getting hurt and leaving. Honestly, I’m just proud of us - the way we have been able to handle it and bounce back. Even though we are disappointed, we feel like we still have something to play for.”

The Frogs’ side of the bracket includes #2 seed Creighton, a program with a lot of postseason basketball accolades. Memphis, Nebraska, Butler, San Diego State (an old rival), and last year’s March Madness darlings, Loyola Chicago, round out their quadrant. The only other Big 12 team in the field is Texas, a #2 seed on the same side of the bracket, facing off with South Dakota State and with Alabama looming as the number one seed.

While the NIT is a disappointing end to a season with such promise to some, the team and the coaches are going to attack it with everything they have. Jamie Dixon is asking the fans to support them along the way, but knows it may be tough to get them on board. “It’s going to be interesting. There was a great excitement for the NIT last time, but this is going to be interesting to see how our crowd and how our students respond. Obviously, getting the NIT the first time was a step, but this is a different time, so there’s disappointment right now. So we’ve got to regroup, we’ve got to get our fans engaged in this opportunity, and we’ve got to play well. The best thing that we can do is to prepare to play and prepare to play well. That’s going to be the best remedy to get over this disappointment, for our players and our fans.”

One other note about the NIT - they do some experimenting with the rules, most of which fans (and programs) seem to appreciate. You can read up on them below:

The 3-point line will be extended by approximately 1 foot, 8 inches to the same distance used by FIBA for international competition (22 feet, 1.75 inches).

The free throw lane will be widened from 12 feet to 16 feet, consistent with the width used by the NBA.

The shot clock will reset to 20 seconds after an offensive rebound instead of the full 30 seconds.

Team fouls will reset at the 10-minute mark of each half for the purpose of determining free throws and one-and-one free throws will be eliminated. Teams will shoot two bonus free throws after the fifth team foul of each 10-minute segment. Additionally, teams will be awarded two bonus free throws after the second team foul committed under two minutes remaining in each half if that foul occurs before the fifth team foul of the segment. In each overtime period, team fouls will reset, and teams will shoot two free throws beginning with the fourth team foul or the second team foul committed under two minutes remaining if that comes before the fourth team foul of the overtime period.