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Norfolk State to play at Virginia on Tuesday in NIT
Norfolk State to play at Virginia on Tuesday in NIT

Norfolk State and the University of Virginia - two basketball teams disappointed not to be playing in the NCAA tournament - will meet at 9 p.m. Tuesday in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament in Charlottesville.

The teams met two years ago at John Paul Jones Arena, when U.Va. beat the Spartans 50-49 on Assane Sene's tip-in of a missed foul shot with 4.8 seconds left. It was the only meeting between the schools.

Tuesday's game will be televised on ESPNU, the third appearance for the Spartans this season on national TV.

Norfolk State (21-11) went 16-0 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and won 15 consecutive games entering the conference tournament this past week at Scope. But the Spartans' hopes of returning to the NCAA tournament, where they upset second-seeded Missouri last season, ended with a quarterfinal overtime loss to Bethune-Cookman.

U.Va. (21-11) was among the last teams left out of the NCAA tournament. The Cavaliers lost five of their past eight games, including a 75-56 blowout loss Friday to North Carolina State in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament.

U.Va. had signature victories over Duke, North Carolina and Wisconsin but also went 0-3 against the Colonial Athletic Association, losing to Old Dominion, George Mason and Delaware.

Norfolk State coach Anthony Evans said his Spartans took the Bethune-Cookman loss hard but practiced with energy Sunday and were excited to be playing an ACC team.

"It's our second year in a row in postseason play, and that's an important step in building our program," he said. "Any exposure that we get is a great opportunity for our program. And it gives our seniors another chance to compete."

U.Va. is a tough defensive team that was without point guard Jontel Evans, a senior from Hampton's Bethel High, in the three CAA losses. He averages nearly five assists per game.

Joe Harris, a 6-foot-6 junior guard, could create match-up problems for the Spartans. Harris averaged 17 points for the Cavaliers, while Akil Mitchell, a 6-8 forward, averaged 13 points and nearly 9 rebounds per game.

"I watched them when they beat Duke, and that's a very good basketball team," Evans said. "Harris is a shooter. It's a very athletic team."

Fourth-year coach Tony Bennett has led U.Va. to back-to-back 20-win seasons.

Norfolk State is making its first appearance in the NIT. It's the 13th trip to the NIT for U.Va., which won NIT championships in 1980 and 1992.

The NIT is a 32-team tournament divided into four regions. Teams are seeded 1 through 8 in each region. U.Va. is a 1 seed and NSU a No. 8.

The first three rounds of the tournament are held on campus sites, with the semifinals and finals on April 2 and April 4 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Tickets for Tuesday's game are on sale, at $10 apiece, at NSU at and at U.Va. at

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