FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas is hosting Maine in the first round of the preseason National Invitation Tournament, it was announced by the NIT on Wednesday.
Arkansas, which returns four starters and 11 lettermen from last year’s 20-11 squad which finished second in the Southeastern Conference’s Western Division and earned the school’s 13th NCAA Tournament invitation in 15 years, will host the game on Nov. 12.
If Arkansas wins, the second-round game is scheduled for Nov. 14, 15 or 16 against the winner of the Wake Forest–North Carolina-Wilmington matchup at a site to be determined. Wake Forest is playing host to UNCW at Winston-Salem, N.C.
Maine was 18-11 last year and fourth in the America East Conference at 11-9. The Bears lost their top two leading scorers and are led by 6-2 senior guard Huggy Dye (13.2 ppg).
“I’m delighted and happy that our team has been invited to play in the preseason NIT,” Arkansas head coach Nolan Richardson says. “The University of Maine will be a tremendous contest for us. Fortunately, we get to play them at Bud Walton Arena. If we’re fortunate enough to win the first game, hopefully we can get a second-round game at our place and have an opportunity to advance to New York.”
Wake Forest was 19-11 last season and first-year head coach Skip Prosser’s club is led by junior Josh Howard (13.6 ppg). UNCW was also 19-11 and is led by junior guard Brett Blizzard (13.8 ppg).
All-Southeastern Conference guard Jannero Pargo (12.3 ppg) and fellow seniors Brandon Dean (8.2 ppg), Teddy Gipson (8.1 ppg) and T.J. Cleveland (7.5 ppg) are the top returning Razorbacks.
Sixteen teams have been invited to participate in the 17th preseason NIT.
Other games on Nov. 12 are Manhattan at Syracuse and Fordham at DePaul. First-round games on Nov. 13 include Wyoming at Southern California, Montana State at Fresno State, Central Connecticut at Oklahoma and Detroit at Michigan State.
The semifinals and finals are scheduled for New York’s Madison Square Garden Nov. 21 and 23.
If Arkansas reaches the semifinals, the Razorbacks would face the Wyoming-Southern Cal/Montana State-Fresno State winner in New York.
Arkansas is participating in the preseason NIT for the first time since 1995-96 when the Hogs beat Northeast Louisiana, 75-67, in the first round and lost to Arizona, 83-73, in the second round with both games played in Fayetteville. UA also participated in the 1990-91 tournament, beating Vanderbilt in the first game, 107-70, and Oklahoma in the second round, 110-88, again with both games in Fayetteville. The Hogs went on to beat Duke in the semifinals in New York, 98-88, before losing to Arizona in the championship game, 89-77.
The remainder of Arkansas’ schedule has not been finalized.