The U.N.I. Panthers will play in the NIT for the first time in school history when they face St. Joseph’s in Philadelphia on Wednesday night. This is U.N.I.’s 4th straight year in the postseason, following a bid in the CIT a year ago.

Panther coach Ben Jacobson says the NIT is a big step up, as he says the NCAA Tourament is the best, and the next best thing is the NIT.

Jacobson says that the Panthers were rewarded for playing a tough non-conference schedule. “that is what got us into the NIT this year,” Jacobson says. He says winning late in the season helped, but the schedule is the main reason and that’s why they play a tough schedule every year.

As a number seven seed in the NIT, the Panthers will likely play each of their remaining games on the road. Jacobson says that won’t be a problem for his team, which faced tough road trips to Old Dominion, Saint Mary’s, and VCU this season. He says the experience they had on the road early helped prepare them to go on the road in this tournament.

The Panthers left for Philadelphia last night, but had gotten a few days of practice in over the weekend. Jacobson says it was clear from the players’ intensity in those workouts that they are excited for the postseason.

The Panthers and the Hawks will tip off at 6:15 tomorrow night.

By Jesse Gavin KCNZ Cedar Falls