Remember all that stuff I wrote about the CIT? Forget about it! It was announced just after midnight today that Hofstra will participate in the College Basketball Invitational and will host something called an IUPUI (that bit of New York snobbery is for Twitter friend turned foe RedZoneIUPUI) Wednesday at 7 p.m. If the Flying Dutchmen win, they’ll then host a quarterfinal game a week from today.
All trash-talking aside, don’t sleep on IUPUI, which will arrive in Hempstead with quite the resume—the Jaguars finished second in the Summit League with a 15-3 record, lost to Oakland in the championship game of the Summit tournament and were 83rd in the NCAA’s RPI rankings Sunday). We’ll have plenty more on IUPUI and the CBI over the next couple days, but first, let’s chew on the pleasant and delicious surprise that is this appearance in the CBI.
As evidenced by my CIT stories and musings the last few days, I never expected Hofstra to make the financial commitment required by the CBI, which charges host teams $60,000 per game. Nor would I have blamed the school for choosing not to do so.
There is a chance Hofstra negotiated a lower price—Wisconsin-Green Bay didn’t pay to host a game last season in exchange for agreeing to play in a pre-season tournament run by the Gazelle Group, which also operates the CBI—but regardless, the school should be commended for making an investment in the men’s basketball program by committing to at least two home games. (Yes, I am lauding both Hofstra and George Mason in the same week, I do in fact feel woozy)
If Hofstra paid the full fee, then it all but assured this CBI run—no matter how long it lasts—will operate in the red. The top ticket price is $10 ($5 cheaper than the top price for a regular season game) meaning even a sellout wouldn’t recoup the school’s initial investment.
This morning’s news comes six days after the NCAA announced Hofstra won the right to host the men’s lacrosse quarterfinals in 2011 and is consistent with the message delivered the day football was killed: No other programs are in danger and every effort will be made to get them to succeed at a national level. Nothing will ever excuse the surreptitious assassination of football, but at least the powers that be are living up to their word by displaying support for the remaining sports.
You can bet the basketball staff is thrilled with this investment as well with the message it sends to conferences present and, perhaps, future as well. The CAA is sending six schools to a postseason tournament, most of any true mid-major league. The Atlantic 10 is sending eight schools to a tournament and has the most schools in the CBI (three). Interesting, yes?
Also worth noting: If Hofstra reaches the semifinals of the CBI, it will have to postpone the basketball banquet, currently scheduled for next Wednesday.
You, too, deserve credit for getting Hofstra into the CBI. The school was surprised by the negative reaction to its declining to participate in either the CBI or CIT last year, so much so that Jack Hayes and Tom Pecora sent out an email explaining the decision to season ticket holders and Pride Club members. We all know how much Hofstra hates bad publicity, so what better way to fix the damage from last season than by playing multiple home games in one of these tournaments this year?
And the most fascinating part of Hofstra participating in the CBI? It further fuels the rivalry with Stony Brook. Hours before Hofstra’s home game was finalized, the NIT pairings were released with eighth-seeded Stony Brook hosting a game against top-seeded Illinois because of a conflict at Illinois’ arena. Stony Brook AD and Hofstra alum Jim Fiore told Newsday last night that the school made $75,000 in emergency repairs to make Stony Brook Arena—which was supposed to be renovated until the economy collapsed—inhabitable for an America East title game or NIT home game.
Maybe Hofstra hosting a CBI game at the exact same time Stony Brook is hosting an NIT game is coincidence. But given how the Cold War between the schools is beginning to make the mid-‘80s relations between Russia and the United States look warm in comparison, I doubt it. Who knew a berth in the CBI could be so much fun?