Both of the UCF men’s and women’s basketball teams are back in postseason play as both head to the National Invitational Tournament.
Following an impressive regular season and American Athletic Conference Semifinals appearance, the men’s team (21-11) will participate in the tournament for the second time, and the women will compete in the tournament for the first time.
Also for the first time, UCF will host an NIT game. The fourth seeded Knights will welcome fifth seeded Colorado (19-14) to CFE Arena Wednesday at 7 p.m. with coverage on ESPN3 and FM 96.9 The Game.
UCF last appeared in the NIT in 2011-12 after a 21-9 regular season and its only trip to the Conference USA Semifinals. The Knights have been to four NCAA Tournaments following Atlantic Sun Championships in 1994, 1996, 2004 and 2005.
This season’s Knights nearly doubled their most American Athletic Conference victories ever, winning 11 games in league play and earning a first round bye in the conference’s tournament for the first time. Fourth seeded UCF defeated fifth seeded Memphis 84-54 in the quarterfinals, before falling to eventual champion SMU 70-59 in the semis.
In his first season at the helm, UCF head coach Johnny Dawkins has led the Knights to nine more wins than they recorded last year. UCF defeated Memphis twice, Temple twice and picked up a victory over then No. 15 Cincinnati.
With a win on Wednesday, the Knights would advance to take on the winner of No. 1 seed Illinois State and No. 8 seed UC Irvine. That game would be played between March 16 and 20.
The first three rounds of the NIT are played at campus sites of the higher seed. The semifinals and finals will be played at Madison Square Garden in New York City on March 28 and 30.
The first 300 students can get tickets for free on Wednesday morning.
The women’s team posted a 20-11 season record and will host Stetson at 7 p.m. Thursday in CFE Arena.
“I’m excited for our players, especially our returners who have never been to the postseason,” head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson said. “It’s a lot of fun to be able to keep playing right now. It’s a great experience for the whole team, but it’s very special for the seniors. They get to extend their careers.”
UCF women have been to four NCAA Tournaments following Atlantic Sun Championships (1996, 1999) and Conference USA titles (2009, 2011).
“It’s my first time playing in the postseason as a Knight,” senior Zykira Lewis said. “I’m excited to continue playing with my teammates.”
The Knights posted one of the best turnarounds in Division I women’s basketball, as their 20 wins in the 2016-17 campaign marked 13 more victories than last season. At 9-7 in American Athletic Conference action, UCF more than doubled its win total from last season and earned a first round bye in the conference tournament for the first time. As the fourth seed, UCF defeated fifth-seeded Tulane 61-57 in the quarterfinals, before falling to top ranked – and eventual champion – UConn 78-56 in the semis.
Reaching milestone after milestone under Abrahamson-Henderson’s guidance, the Knights earned several “firsts” this season. One of those came on Feb. 14, when UCF knocked off then-No. 22 USF in the Sun Dome, picking up the program’s first win over a nationally ranked opponent, and their first win in Tampa.
The Knights added the program’s first win in The American tournament to their resume on March 4, and nine days later achieved another program first, earning the bid to the WNIT.
“It means a lot,” redshirt senior Joslyn Massey said. “I’m happy that we get to continue this great season.”
Tickets are available now on UCFKnights.com. Season ticket holders can login to their account and purchase tickets by clicking here. Tickets for the general public can be purchased by clicking here. All UCF students will receive free admission to the first round.