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BYU to visit Stanford in 1st round of NIT

Brigham Young Cougars' bench celebrates a three point shot as BYU and Gonzaga play in an NCAA basketball game in the Marriott Center in Provo on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018.
Brigham Young Cougars' bench celebrates a three point shot as BYU and Gonzaga play in an NCAA basketball game in the Marriott Center in Provo on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

PROVO — On a Selection Sunday that saw fellow West Coast Conference member Saint Mary’s get snubbed by the NCAA Tournament and relegated to the National Invitation Tournament, BYU learned it is also headed to the NIT.

The Cougars received a No. 6 seed and will visit No. 3 Stanford Wednesday (8 p.m. MDT, ESPNU) at Maples Pavilion in Stanford, California.

BYU helped keep Saint Mary’s out of the NCAA Tournament because the Cougars whipped the Gaels 85-72 in the WCC semifinals last Monday. While Saint Mary's missed out on the NCAA Tournament despite a 28-5 record, it earned a No. 1 seed in the NIT by virtue of being one of the first four teams left out of the NCAAs.

The Cougars entered the day sitting on the NIT bubble after a dozen teams that won their conference regular-season titles but were eliminated in their conference tournaments received automatic bids, shrinking the number of at-large berths.

BYU (24-10) will take on a Cardinal team that finished in a third-place tie in the Pac-12 standings.

The winner of Wednesday’s contest will meet the winner of No. 2 Oklahoma State and No. 7 Florida Gulf Coast in the second round.

Stanford (18-15) is led by forward Reid Travis, who averages a team-high 19.5 points and a team-high 8.5 rebounds per game. Travis was named to the All-Pac-12 First Team.

The Cardinal also boast good balance with Dorian Pickens (15.2 ppg), Daejon Davis (10.7 ppg), Kezie Okpala (10.2 ppg) and Michael Humphrey (9.8 ppg).

Stanford coach Jerod Haase, who’s in his second season, has recorded a 32-32 record with the Cardinal.

Prior to taking over at Stanford, Haase coached UAB. Two years ago, BYU defeated UAB in the first round of the NIT in Provo, 97-79. As it turned out, that marked Haase’s final game as coach of the Blazers, and later he became the Cardinal head coach.

BYU and Stanford have played three common opponents this season.

The Cardinal defeated Pacific 89-80 in November while the Cougars split with the Tigers, losing 67-66 in Stockton in early January and winning in Provo in late January, 80-65, in WCC play.

Stanford lost at Utah, 75-60. BYU downed the Utes in Provo, 77-65.

And the Cardinal beat San Francisco, 71-59. BYU swept USF in WCC play, 69-59 on the road and 75-73 in overtime at home.

Under coach Dave Rose, the Cougars are 2-0 against Stanford. BYU won 112-103 in Stanford in 2013 and 79-77 in Provo in 2014.

Rose has led BYU to a postseason tournament in all 13 seasons as head coach, including five NIT appearances. The Cougars reached the NIT semifinals in Madison Square Garden in New York in 2013 and 2016. This is BYU’s third consecutive NIT berth.

Overall, this is BYU’s 14th NIT bid. The Cougars have posted an 18-11 mark in the NIT and they won the championship in 1951 and 1966.

The NIT first round will be played Tuesday and Wednesday at campus sites throughout the country. The second round will be held March 16-19 while the quarterfinals will be on March 20 and 21.

The NIT semifinals will be on March 27 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, with the championship game being staged on March 29.

The 2018 NIT features four experimental rule changes:

​— The 3-point line will be extended by about 1 foot, 8 inches to the same distance used by FIBA for international competition (22 feet 1.75 inches).

— The free-throw lane will be widened from 12 feet to 16 feet, consistent with the width used by the NBA.

— The games will be divided into four 10-minute quarters as opposed to two 20-minute halves. Teams will shoot two free throws beginning with the fifth foul of each quarter.

— The shot clock will reset to 20 seconds after an offensive rebound instead of the full 30 seconds.