FIU says the rest of the men's basketball schedule should be out in early September. For now, we'll just have to be satisfied with the organizers of the 16-team Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off throwing a bone -- or an anvil -- FIU's way by inviting the Golden Panthers to play George Mason at Virginia Tech, in picturesque Blacksburg, Virginia on Nov. 14. In the East Regional's other semifinal, Va. Tech plays Monmouth.
The losers of those games play a consolation game. Considering Va. Tech's at home and the No. 4 seed in the tournament and No. 5 seed George Mason is coming off a 27-7 season that included an NCAA tournament win, odds are FIU's next game will be against Monmouth. Monmouth is in West Long Branch, New Jersey, approximately one-hour from New York and Philadelphia and walking distance from the Atlantic Ocean.
But, hey, it's early season college-affiliated basketball. Who knows? a couple of upsets and FIU would head for the semi-final round at Madison Square Garden, a place head coach Isiah Thomas knows well. Seeing as how the NBA might still be in lockout mode, there's a slim shot we could see the irony of a Thomas-coached FIU team playing in The Garden this season before the Knicks.
The tournament's No. 1 seed, Syracuse, opens at home against Manhattan in the North Regional. If it was Dr. Manhattan, Syracuse would be in trouble. Instead, the Orangemen should romp happily into a second round game against the Albany-Brown winner, then skip merrily along to The Garden to face the East Regional winner.
In the Midwest Regional, No. 2 seed Oklahoma State gets to feast on Arkansas-Pine Bluff before a second round game against the Oral Roberts vs. Texas-San Antonio winner. Out in Palo Alto, where hopefully my daughter will be enrolling in 2023, No. 3 seed Stanford starts with Fresno State and No. 7 Colorado opens with SMU.
The preseason NIT invited FIU once before, 1998-99, as fodder for North Carolina. The Golden Panthers dutifully took a 65-44 pounding.
Now, back to MickeyD's 49-cent hamburger Wednesday...