The University of North Texas’ chances of making the NCAA Tournament took a critical hit after Friday’s loss to UAB in the Conference USA Tournament semifinals, and the Mean Green heads to the National Invitation Tournament (NIT).
Each conference receives one automatic bid — reserved for each conference tournament winner — and with its loss to the Blazers, UNT was on the outside looking in at the NCAA field.
Despite a historic season with a program-record 26 regular-season wins, UNT finished second in the conference as Florida Atlantic won the regular-season and conference-tournament titles.
The Owls are the lone representative from Conference USA, leaving UNT and UAB to fend for themselves in the NIT.
Although the ultimate goal each season is to make the NCAA Tournament, there were plenty of positives this season, and the Mean Green could add to their list with a run in the NIT.
Senior guard Tylor Perry was the second North Texas athlete in history to be named Conference USA Player of the Year. He led the team with 16.8 points per game while climbing higher on the school’s all-time three-pointers list.
UNT also had the Conference USA Newcomer of the Year in Kai Huntsberry, who transferred from the University of Mary (Division II), finished second on the team in points, and led the Mean Green in assists.
North Texas, which has made three consecutive postseason tournaments for the first time in school history, earned its fourth overall berth under current head coach Grant McCasland.
Virginia eliminated the Mean Green from the NIT in overtime in the second round last season.
UNT (26-5) is the two-seed in the “Upper Left Bracket” and hosts seven-seed Alcorn State in Denton at 7 p.m. CT on Wednesday. The winner will play either three-seed Sam Houston State or six-seed Santa Clara in the second round.
Oklahoma State, one of the First Four Out of the NCAA Tournament, is the top seed in the same bracket.
UNT and Sam Houston State are the only Texas schools in the 32-team field, which includes five rounds of postseason games played from March 14-March 30.
The first three rounds are played on college campuses, and Orleans Arena in Las Vegas will host the semifinals and finals.