Elon Men’s Basketball Travels to Rutgers for NIT Season Tip-Off

ELON, N.C. – The Elon University men’s basketball team returns to action on Monday night, Nov. 18, at the Rutgers Athletic Center when the sixth-seeded Phoenix takes on the eighth-seeded Drexel Dragons in the first round of the 2013 NIT Season Tip-Off. Tip is scheduled for 5 p.m.

Listen to the game live on WPCM 95.1 FM/920 AM with Taylor Durham (play-by-play) and Jason Vonick (color) on the call. Should Elon play Rutgers on Tuesday, Nov. 19, the game will be carried live on ESPN3.

ELON VS. DREXEL: Monday night marks the first meeting between Elon and Drexel, but the two schools will get to know one another quickly in the near future as Colonial Athletic Association rivals. Elon will join Drexel in the CAA beginning in 2014-15. Other than teams in the NIT Season Tip-Off field, the Phoenix and Dragons have one common opponent this season in Davidson.

ELON VS. CANISIUS AND RUTGERS: Elon has met both Canisius and Rutgers on one other occasion in its 105-year history. Elon’s ended last season with a loss to Canisius in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT), as the Golden Griffins came away with a 69-53 win on their home court on March 20, 2013. Elon’s lone game against Rutgers came on Dec. 18, 1999, at the RAC, as the Phoenix fell, 89-78.

ELON IN THE NIT SEASON TIP-OFF: This year’s appearance in the NIT Season Tip-Off marks Elon’s second ever appearance in the 28-year tournament. The Phoenix played in the tournament in Matt Matheny’s first season in 2009-10, Matheny’s first at Elon. In two games at Cameron Indoor Stadium, the Phoenix dropped decisions to Charlotte and Coastal Carolina. Elon closed out the Preseason NIT at Hofstra, falling to Yale and Hofstra.

The tournament began in 1985 as the Preseason NIT, so called to distinguish it from the post-season NIT. In 2005, the NCAA purchased the Men’s Preseason and Postseason NIT and renamed the November tournament the NIT Season Tip-Off. The tournament remains one of the most well-known preseason tournaments, along with the Maui Invitational, which Elon participated in last year, winning the Regional Games’ title.

LOOKING BACK: The Phoenix dropped an 83-69 decision at Charlotte on Friday, Nov. 15, at Halton Arena in its last game. With Elon leading by four points following a Tanner Samson three-pointer with 5:16 left, the 49ers answered abruptly with an 18-0 run largely sparked by the play of Shawn Lester to take a 14-point lead with 2:01 to play. Charlotte held on down the stretch for the win, handing the Phoenix its first loss of the season.

LOOKING AHEAD: Following Monday’s matchup with Drexel, Elon will face either Canisius or Rutgers a day later at 5 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. Fourth-seeded Rutgers is confirmed for a 7:30 p.m. start time on both nights no matter what, regardless of an appearance in the consolation game or championship game.

POSSIBLE SCENARIOS: With two wins at Rutgers in the North Pod of the NIT Season Tip-Off, sixth-seeded Elon would advance to the semifinal round of the tournament on Nov. 27 at Madison Square Garden to face the winner of the West Pod, which features top-seeded Arizona, fifth-seeded Rhode Island, Farleigh Dickinson and Metro State. With a loss in either game at Rugers, Elon advances to the consolation round of the NIT Season Tip-Off, to be played on Nov. 25-26 on campus sites of the four highest seeded teams in the consolation round.

HEAD COACH MATT MATHENY: Matt Matheny is in his fifth season as the Elon head men’s basketball coach. The 2013 Southern Conference Coach of the Year by the media, Matheny enters Monday’s game with an overall record of 61-69. Matheny was a finalist for CollegeInsider.com’s Hugh Durham Award last season, which honors the nation’s top mid-major coach.

PRESEASON PROGNOSTICATIONS: Following last year’s Southern Conference North Division championship and 21-12 finish, Elon was selected as the favorites to win the SoCon in both preseason polls by the head coaches and media. Elon returns all five starters from last year’s squad, including preseason All-SoCon selections Ryley Beaumont, Jack Isenbarger and Lucas Troutman. Troutman was named to CollegeInsider.com’s preseason mid-major All-American team.