The University of Montana Grizzly basketball team will play the Texas A&M Aggies in College Station, Texas, in an NIT first round game on Tuesday, March 17 in Reed Arena (12,989) at 7 p.m. (Mountain). The game will be televised on ESPNU. 2015 NIT Bracket
The Grizzlies are 20-12 overall and were the regular-season co-champions of the Big Sky Conference, sharing the crown with the Eastern Washington Eagles, as both teams went 14-4 in league play. Last night (Saturday, March 14), the host Grizzlies lost 69-65 to the Eagles in the Big Sky tourney title game, giving EWU the league’s automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
“At this point we’re happy about postseason play,” said first-year Montana head coach Travis DeCuire. “We’re over last night. I kind of went into it on where we play, and I just want the team to be excited and go get after it. I don’t know much about Texas A&M. It’s going to be a long trip. That’s where the NIT, the travel, sometimes beats some teams. We’ve just have to handle it the best we can, and go in fresh and ready to compete.”
The Aggies are 20-11 overall and were 11-7 (tie, third) in the Southeastern Conference. Texas A&M lost 66-59 to Auburn on Thursday, March 12, in a second round SEC tourney game played in Nashville. They are coached by Billy Kennedy, who is 70-60 in his fourth season.
“I think it’s an opportunity to be loose,” DeCuire said. “As tight as this weekend was with what we had on the line, I think that now it’s just kind of turn the guys loose, let’s get a fresh workout in, and put together a game plan, and let the ball rise and see what happens.”
“I think it’s usually mentally, after a letdown like what we had last night,” DeCuire said when asked if he was more worried about his team having a physical or a mental letdown after the loss to EWU. “I think there was a point in time where the guys felt realistic about their opportunity to be in the NCAA Tournament and to see it disappear as quickly as it did.
“I think we were in shock in the locker-room last night, so you’ve got guys that wake up this morning, and they know it really happened,” DeCuire said. “The question is, how to we recover. We had a pretty quiet locker-room. But now the guys are starting to look forward to this opportunity. For Montana to be in the NIT in a year that they didn’t win the (Big Sky) tournament, actually it’s a pretty good opportunity.”