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Central Michigan kicks off NIT with Louisiana Tech match-up

The Chips turn their focus towards the NIT after a disappointing end in the MAC Tournament.

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

It's really hard to come back after losing a heartbreaking game, but that's exactly what the Central Michigan Chippewas have to do tonight. After losing by five to Buffalo in the MAC Tournament final, the Chips were given a 6-seed in the NIT and a first round match-up with third-seeded Louisiana Tech.

Louisiana Tech, located in Ruston, Louisiana, won Conference USA this season with a 15-3 record and a 25-8 overall record. They lost in the quarterfinals of the C-USA Tournament to UAB, who was hosting the tournament. The Bulldogs didn't lose on their home floor this season, posting a perfect 16-0 record.

There were murmurs of the Bulldogs possibly getting an at-large bid, but when you look at their schedule you can see they didn't really have many impressive wins. Conference USA had quite a down year this year, as only five teams made any kind of postseason. Louisiana Tech had a 6-6 record against postseason teams this year, and their best win was twice beating UTEP, who is a six-seed in the NIT.

Both senior guard Raheem Appleby and junior guard Alex Hamilton lead the Bulldogs in scoring at 15 points per game. Sophomore Erik McCree, a six-foot-eight forward, is the only other double-digit per game scorer at nearly 12. Louisiana Tech is a pretty tall team, as the shortest rotation player stands at six-foot-three. It's no surprise they were eighth in the country in total blocks this year, with 187.

Central Michigan won't change their game plan - they'll look to attack the basket with Chris Fowler and get guys like John Simons and Josh Kozinski open for three-pointers. Louisiana Tech doesn't defend the three-ball that well, letting opponents shoot nearly 34 percent from beyond the arc. Rebounding will be key for the Chips, as the Bulldogs were 338th in the country at giving up rebounds to their opponent.

The winner of this game will take on either Texas A&M or Montana, who also play tonight. Tonight's game won't be televised, but you can stream it on ESPN3 at 7:30 eastern time.