CONWAY, SC (WMBF) – Coastal Carolina will face the University of Alabama-Birmingham in the first round of the postseason NIT. The Chants earned that spot by winning the Big South regular season title. CCU is making its first postseason appearance since 1993.
CCU earned the No. 7 seed for the tournament, facing No. 2 seed UAB. The team gathered Sunday night to watch the NIT Selection Show. Friends, fans and family also showed up at Buffalo Wild Wings in Carolina Forest.
"It's a real big thing for Coastal to be playing in this," said Coastal Carolina forward Logan Johnson. "To get here with all our supporters, seeing who we're going to play, it's a lot of fun."
The Chants made no secret their goal all year was making the NCAA Tournament. They fell one win short, losing to Winthrop in the Big South Tournament finals. Still, making the postseason is a big step forward.
"We were real disappointed about losing to Winthrop, but we found out the NIT is not that bad," said CCU forward Sam McLaurin. "Plus we've never been there as a school, so we figure let's go try and make the best of this tournament. Let's go knit some sweaters, I guess."
The game comes with plenty of intrigue. Chanticleer head coach Cliff Ellis used to coach both at the University of South Alabama and Auburn University, so he has plenty of history against UAB. Redshirt senior Joseph Harris has some, as well - he graduated last year and planned to transfer to UAB to play his final year of eligibility.
"That's where I was for about two weeks before the school year started," said Harris. "I chose to go there to go to nursing school. Things didn't pan out, so now I'm back here. It makes it even more interesting that we're going to their gym and playing at their home."
Coastal Carolina will face UAB Tuesday evening at 8 p.m. in Birmingham. The winner will face the winner of South Florida against North Carolina State.