Wolverines travel to Cal in first-ever NIT appearance

Holton Hunsaker

March 16, 2014

2014 NIT Tournament Bracket

OREM, Utah – Utah Valley University is set to make its first NIT appearance on Wednesday when it travels to Berkeley, Calif. to face California of the Pac-12. The game will tip at 7:30 p.m. PT/8:30 p.m. MT and air on ESPN3.

The Wolverines (20-11) are seeded No. 7 in their region  -- SMU is the No. 1 seed -- with the Golden Bears (19-13) the second seed.

“Cal is athletic, has great personnel and a hall of fame coach in Mike Montgomery,” said UVU head coach Dick Hunsaker. “It will be a very tough challenge but it’s an exciting challenge. It’s great to be a part of the NIT.”

By virtue of its WAC regular season title, the Wolverines (20-11) received the automatic bid to the tournament in just their first season as members of the WAC. It’s also the first season in UVU’s brief NCAA DI era that the Wolverines have competed in a league that holds automatic berths to the NCAA and NIT Tournaments.

Utah Valley and Cal have met twice before, with the Golden Bears winning both meetings at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley. Cal defeated UVU on Nov. 15, 2006, 60-47, and on Dec. 28, 2009, 85-51.

It will be the second time that Utah Valley has appeared in a postseason tournament at the Division I level. The Wolverines played Weber State in the 2012 CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament.

UVU was upset, 74-69, by Idaho in the semifinals of the WAC Tournament on Friday. That game came on the heels of the best shooting night in the history of the tournament, hitting 70.5 percent in an 83-63 win over Texas-Pan American. It broke a nearly 30-year-old record, with Wyoming’s 65.9 percent in 1986 standing atop the record book for 28 years.

Last year’s NIT included Kentucky, Alabama and Virginia, a top seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament. The 2013 Final Four, played at Madison Square Garden each year, consisted of champion Baylor, runner-up Iowa, BYU and Maryland.

The winner of the game will play the winner of No. 3 seeded Arkansas and No. 6 seeded Indiana State in the second round, which is slated for 20-24.