FORT WAYNE – Purdue’s men’s basketball season received a stay of execution Sunday when the College Basketball Invitational announced that the Boilermakers will play Western Illinois at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Purdue.
It marks the first time in school history that Purdue (15-17) has played in the tournament, which is in its sixth season. The tournament is hosted by the Gazelle Group.
We’re happy for the chance to continue our season and excited that the Gazelle Group afforded us this opportunity, Purdue coach Matt Painter said in a university statement. I’m confident that this will be a positive step for the future of our program.
Tickets will go on sale to John Purdue Club members at 9 a.m. and to the general public at noon today through the Purdue Athletic Ticket Office.
Western Illinois (22-8) tied South Dakota State for the lead in the Summit League, each with 13-3 conference records.
The Boilermakers are 4-0 all-time against Western Illinois and haven’t faced the Leathernecks since an 83-48 victory at Mackey Arena on Dec. 9, 1999. Purdue is 12-0 all-time against teams that currently comprise the Summit League.
Terone Johnson leads Purdue with a 13.3 average, followed by A.J. Hammons (10.7) and D.J. Byrd (10.2).
A win over Western Illinois would pit the Boilers against the winner of the first-round matchup between Vermont and Santa Clara on March 25. Purdue is 4-0 all-time against Santa Clara and has never faced Vermont.
Western Illinois, led by guard Ceola Clark’s 13.7 points per game, defeated IPFW twice this season – 62-50 and 43-40.
Kentucky, last season’s national champion, headlines the list of teams set to compete in this year’s NIT.
The Wildcats aren’t the only SEC team snubbed by the NCAA tournament selection committee.
Alabama and Tennessee also missed the cut, marking the first time in 39 years that the Wildcats, Crimson Tide and Volunteers were left out of the same NCAA tournament.
The Wildcats (21-11) and Crimson Tide (21-12) are No. 1 seeds in the NIT, along with Southern Mississippi and Virginia.
The Wildcats, who struggled to live up to lofty preseason expectations, went 4-4 in their final eight games without freshman star Nerlens Noel, who had his season ended early with a knee injury that required surgery.
Kentucky, which played in the last two Final Fours under fourth-year coach John Calipari, becomes the 20th defending national champion to be left out of the NCAA tournament field and first since North Carolina in 2010.