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NIAGARA INVITED TO PRESEASON NIT

The last time the Niagara men's basketball team played was during the National Invitation Tournament. The next time it plays also will be during the NIT.

The bracket for the Preseason NIT was announced Thursday, and Niagara is one of 16 teams featured. It travels to Providence on Nov. 16 to face the Friars in the Dunkin' Donuts Center for a 7 p.m. game on ESPN2.

"We are honored to be in such a prestigious event and excited about the opportunity to match up with a program like Providence," said Niagara coach Joe Mihalich. "Plus, we appreciate the opportunity to showcase our team on national TV."

The Purple Eagles were invited to the postseason NIT last season. They beat Troy State in the opening round before losing at Nebraska to finish 22-10. Niagara, which made a Preseason NIT appearance in 1998 during Mihalich's first season, returns three senior starters in forward Juan Mendez (20.5 points per game) and guards David Brooks (12.5) and Alvin Cruz (9.0, 5.9 assists).

Providence made the NCAA Tournament last year and features All-American Ryan Gomes, who averaged 18.9 points and 9.4 rebounds during last year's 20-9 campaign. Niagara Falls graduate Jeff Parmer is entering his second year with the Friars. He did not see action last season.

The winner advances to play the survivor of Quinnipiac at Pennsylvania. The other two games in Niagara's bracket are George Washington at Wake Forest and American University at Virginia Commonwealth. The other bracket has San Diego at Arizona, Wright State at Tulsa, Binghamton at Michigan and Charleston at Colorado.

The first two rounds will be at campus sites, while the semifinals and final are in Madison Square Garden.

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