The Kent State Golden Flashes were short-handed for their Mid-American championship appearance against the Akron Zips— due in part to sanctions imposed on them for a viral social media post— but their postseason will not end in Cleveland, as they accept an invitation to The Basketball Classic.
The Basketball Classic is the spiritual successor to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament, which was cancelled over the past two seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 32-team bracket will feature teams who were not selected as at-large teams for the NCAA or NIT brackets.
This will be the fifth time Kent State has been selected to the CIT/TBC under coach Rob Senderoff, who was named MAC Coach of the Year last week.
The most unique feature of both the CIT and the new TBC is the first-round trophy games. Five of the initial 16 games have trophies attached to them, with most trophies named for a former basketball legend. This season, Kent State has been selected as a participant for the Willis Reed Game.
The current bracket, set up based on old NIT rules where each matchup is dictated after each round, is still looking to be filled out completely, as only 22 teams have thus far been confirmed as having accepted invitations. As of publication, seven teams had reportedly declined invitations to the TBC, complicating the search.
The Golden Flashes’ opponent for the Willis Reed game will be the Southern Utah Thunderbirds of the Big Sky Conference. SUU finished 20-11 overall in the 2021-22 campaign, with a 14-6 conference record, with a key win against Yale in overtime in the Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off and a 2OT loss to PAC-12 opponent Cal. The Thunderbirds also hold a win over a MAC team in BGSU, also in Fort Myers.
Both teams finished second in their respective conferences, and both ultimately lost in their conference tournaments, with Southern Utah facing their loss early against Portland State.
Tip-off is set for 9 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, March 16, and will air on ESPN+.