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  • Writer's pictureMarc Viquez

Indiana State & Seton Hall Face Off in NIT Championship Game



I never paid attention to the National Invitational Tournament. I was not aware that it was no longer laid at Madison Square Garden. However, when my alma mater, Indiana State University, did not receive an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament, my attention fell to the NIT. Tonight, Indiana State will face off against Seton Hall University in the championship game at the Hinkle Fieldhouse.


The game will be a sell-out of 9,100 fans for a pro-Indiana State crowd whose fans will only have to make a 70-plus mile drive from Terre Haute.  Seton Hall fans from New Jersey made a lengthier trip (700 miles) to see their team compete in the historic venue.



Both teams felt their season record earned them an at-bid large in this year's NCAA Tournament, and many fans felt snubbed. Indiana State captured the regular season title in the Missouri Valley Conference with a 28-5 record; The Hall finished with a 20-12 record in the competitive Big East Conference.


Both teams accepted the invitation to play in the NIT with the chance to host three more games at home. The Sycamores sold out the 9,000-seater Hulman Center in Terre Haute, while the Pirates hosted three games at their campus venue, the 1,316 Walsh Gymnasium in South Orange, New Jersey. 


The Sycamore crowd accentuated the Hinkle Fieldhouse for the semi-final games on Tuesday. Fans dressed in royal or sky blue pack the Chatham Tap bar and restaurant a few yards away from the arena. Inside, the game feels like a home crowd with 99.9 percent on hand for a 100-90 victory over Utah on Tuesday night.



However, the game feels like a regular Butler home game. Except for the NIT logo placements on the court, it was business as usual with lengthy lines for food and beverage, congestion behind the players’ bench and TV crew for fans walking to their seats, and the cheer team and band provided entertainment between TV timeouts.


I grew up in New Jersey and cried when Seton Hall lost to Michigan in the 1989 NCAA Final Four championship game. I later attended Indiana State and was privy to winning basketball, not compared to what has taken place this season with the Sycamores. 


For both fan bases, to see their basketball teams play meaningful games in April is more than a consultation prize for not making the tournament. The NIT does not have the prestige it once had but don’t tell that to the Sycamore fans who will be selling out the championship game tonight at 7 pm EST. 


It will be quite the spectacle.


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Follow all of Marc’s stadium journeys on Twitter @ballparkhunter and his YouTube channel. Email at Marc.Viquez@stadiumjourney.com 

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