William & Mary’s greatest basketball season in six decades isn’t over yet.
Left out of the NCAA tournament’s field of 64, the Tribe was offered an impressive consolation prize Sunday night – the opportunity to travel to the University of North Carolina Tuesday, March 16, for a first-round game in the National Invitation Tournament. The game, which is being held in Carmichael Arena – not the Dean Smith Center -- will tip off at 9:30 and be televised nationally on ESPN.It is just William & Mary's second trip to the NIT -- the last coming in 1983.
The Tar Heels were seeded fourth, the Tribe fifth, by the selection committee. The winner will face the winner of No. 2 seed Mississippi State and No. 8 seed Jackson State on either March 19, 20 or 22. The other teams in W&M’s bracket are N.C. State, South Florida, Alabama-Birmingham and Coastal Carolina.
The game matches NABC Division I District 10 coach of the year Tony Shaver against his storied alma mater and a good friend in Carolina coach Roy Williams. The Tar Heels, defending NCAA champions, suffered through an uncharacteristically poor 16-16 season. North Carolina closed the season with a 32-point loss at fourth-ranked Duke and a first-round ACC tournament loss to Georgia Tech.
“It’s been the kind of year,” Williams said following UNC’s ouster from the tournament, “I could never have imagined.”
The Tar Heels are led by 6-5 senior swingman Marcus Ginyard, 6-2 sophomore guard Larry Drew, 6-9 senior forward Deon Thompson and 6-10 sophomore Ed Davis.
The Tribe enters the game with a 22-10 record after falling for the second time in the last three seasons in the Colonial Athletic Association championship game. The 22 victories are the most for the program since the 1949-50 season. Guard David Schneider and guard/forward Quin McDowell lead the Tribe at 15.3 and 13.9 points per game, respectively. Senior forward Danny Sumner is third at 10.5 points. Sumner and Schneider are coming off a CAA tournament in which they were named to the all-tournament team.
The NIT plays all but the semifinals and finals at campus sites, meaning the Tribe could host more than one game. The semifinals and finals, March 30 and April 1, will be staged at Madison Square Garden in New York.
For ticket information to the first-round game, Tribe fans can call the W&M Ticket Office at (757) 221-3340. For information on potentional bus trips to Chapel Hill, people can call the Tribe Club at (757) 221-3350.