By Joe Scalzo
The Horizon League men’s basketball tournament may not be the only one in Youngstown State’s future.
With three more HL tournament wins, the Penguins can qualify for the NCAA tournament but, unlike years past, a loss doesn’t necessarily end their year.
Thanks to a 17-win season that included victories over teams such as Valparaiso (the Horizon’s regular season champion), Georgia and George Washington, YSU expects to get strong consideration from the College Basketball Insider tournament and the College Basketball Invitational.
YSU has never played in a postseason tournament since joining Division I in 1981.
“That would be tremendous for us,” said YSU coach Jerry Slocum, who added that injured guard Kendrick Perry would almost certainly be available for either tournament. “I think the kids deserve it. I hope it happens.”
The 16-team CBI began in 2007 and has featured Horizon League teams such as Butler, Green Bay, Valparaiso and Milwaukee.
The 32-team CIT was founded in 2009 and has featured several Mid-American Conference schools, including Kent State.
The two tournaments choose among schools that are not selected for the NCAA or the National Invitational Tournament (NIT).
If YSU is chosen, the school would be interested in hosting a first-round game, sources said. Teams paid $35,000 to host a first-round CBI game last season, with the costs rising to $50,000 for the second round and $75,000 for the semifinals and finals, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. First-round CIT games cost $30,000 last season with costs rising each round.
Teams can recoup the cost through ticket sales and concessions.
“Obviously, you come into every year with aspirations of making the NCAA touranment but … [playing in] a postseason tournament hasn’t been done around here, at least in Division I, so obviously that would be a huge accomplishment,” said senior guard Blake Allen. “Any time you’re touching new territory, that would be a really, really special thing for me to be a part of.”