Towson accepts big to CollegeInsider.com postseason tournament

March 16, 2014 | WNST Staff

TOWSON ACCEPTS COLLEGEINSIDER.COM TOURNAMENT BID
Tigers will play on Wednesday at South Carolina Upstate

TOWSON, Md. – The Towson University men’s basketball team has accepted a bid to play in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT), marking the Tigers first postseason appearance since 1991.

Towson (23-10) will play University of South Carolina Upstate (19-14) in a first round road game on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Hodge Center in Spartanburg, S.C.

The CIT, which features a 32-team field made up of non-BCS programs, is in its sixth year of existence. All 31 tournament games are played on campus sites with the CBS Sports Network broadcasting the semifinal and championship rounds.

Towson’s last postseason tournament appearance was in the 1991 NCAA Tournament when the Tigers fell to Ohio State, 97-86. That was the second of two straight NCAA Tournament appearances for Towson.

Led by a stellar senior class that has won a combined 41 games the last two seasons, Towson head coach Pat Skerry is excited for his team to experience postseason play.

“We’re extremely excited for the opportunity to play in the College Insider.com Postseason Tournament,” said Skerry. To keep our program moving forward, it’s vital to play in the postseason. With our highest RPI ever (96) and a school record 23 wins, our kids deserved to keep playing.

“The fact that our team would have been in the postseason last year but didn’t have that opportunity, it’s important that we do this for them. Many former CAA championship level programs – VCU, George Mason and Old Dominion – have all partaken in the CIT or CBI. What I really like about the CIT is that you have to be above .500 to qualify and that’s why you saw five Top 100 RPI teams in it last year.”

Towson played an extremely difficult non-conference scheduled this year, posting a 9-6 record. All six of the Tigers non-conference losses came away from home and all six opponents qualified for postseason play. Villanova, Kansas, North Dakota State and Stephen F. Austin all reached the NCAA Tournament, Sam Houston State was also selected for the CIT and Oregon State qualified for the CBI.

Towson finished in second-place in the Colonial Athletic Association with a 13-3 record. The No. 2 seed was the Tigers highest ever in the CAA Tournament. Towson handed Delaware, who won the league title and earned a No. 13 seed in the NCAA Tournament, its first conference loss of the season after the Blue Hens started league play 11-0. After sweeping both regular season meetings against William & Mary, the Tigers fell to the Tribe in the CAA Tournament semifinals, 75-71.

Towson is led by two-time CAA Player of the Year Jerrelle Benimon, who leads the nation with 21 double-doubles and leads the Tigers in scoring, rebounding, assists and blocks. All-CAA Third Team selections Marcus Damas and Rafriel Guthrie, along with Mike Burwell make up one of the most important senior classes in Towson history.

Wednesday’s opponent, USC Upstate posted the second-most wins in its school history during the Division I era with 19 victories in 2013-14. The Spartans opened the season with a thrilling 64-63 victory at Virginia Tech to post the school’s first-ever win over an ACC program. Upstate went on to knock off South Carolina 74-68 later in the year for its first-ever win over a team from the SEC.

The Spartans finished 11-7 in conference play and reached the semifinals of the A-Sun Tournament for the second straight year, falling to eventual champion Mercer in double overtime.

Upstate seniors Torrey Craig and Ricardo Glenn each earned all-conference accolades at the conclusion of the season. Craig was named to the All-A-Sun first team after leading the league in scoring while ranking fourth in rebounding. Glenn paced the A-Sun in rebounding, offensive rebounds and field goal percentage on his way to a second team selection.

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