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WFU Deacons in postseason play for 16th consecutive year

Posted Monday, March 13, 2006

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Wake Forest travels to Minnesota Wednesday night in the NIT

Winston-Salem, NC - Wake Forest, which made an impressive run to the ACC Tournament semifinals last week, will participate in postseason play for the 16th consecutive year when the Demon Deacons begin play in the National Invitation Tournament this week.

The Deacons, 17-16, will play at Minnesota Wednesday night. Game time has not been determined.

"I'm very excited to have the opportunity to continue playing," Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser said. "Minnesota is an outstanding team in one of the great conferences. It will certainly be a challenge for us, especially playing at Williams Arena, but it beats getting ready for the opening day of baseball."

The 40-team tournament begins with eight opening-round games on Tuesday. Wake Forest, which is seeded fifth in its section of the bracket, would need to win three games to advance to the semifinals in New York's Madison Square Garden. The winner of the Wake Forest-Minnesota game will play either Cincinnati, Charlotte or Georgia Southern on Tuesday, March 21. Charlotte and Georgia Southern meet in an opening round game Tuesday and the winner plays at Cincinnati on Friday.

Minnesota, 15-14, beat Michigan in the Big Ten Conference Tournament on Thursday, then fell to Iowa on Friday. The Golden Gophers posted wins this season at Arizona State, vs. UNLV, vs. UAB, Indiana, Michigan State, Iowa and Purdue. Senior swingman Vincent Grier (15.5 ppg) leads the Gophers in scoring.

The Deacons are one of six ACC teams in the tournament, joining Maryland, Miami, Clemson, Virginia and Florida State. The four No. 1 seeds in the NIT are Maryland, Michigan, Louisville and Cincinnati.

Wake keeps its streak of consecutive postseason appearances alive. The Deacons have played in the NCAA Tournament or the NIT every year since 1990.

The last time the Deacons played in the NIT came in 2000, when then-coach Dave Odom's team won the championship, beating Notre Dame in the title game at Madison Square Garden. This will be Wake's sixth NIT appearance and the Deacons are 10-4 all-time in the event.

Wake Forest first played in the NIT in 1983, advancing to the semifinals before losing to Fresno State. In 1985, the Deacons lost an NIT first-round game at South Florida. In 1998, Wake beat UNC-Wilmington in the first round, then fell to Vanderbilt in the second round. In 1999 Wake beat Alabama, then fell to then-coach Skip Prosser's Xavier team in the second round.

In 2000, Wake Forest beat Vanderbilt in Nashville, New Mexico in Winston-Salem, California in Greensboro, then beat NC State and Notre Dame in New York to win the title.

Wake Forest enters the NIT having won three of its last four games. Seeded 12th in the ACC Tournament, the Deacons beat No. 5 seed Florida State in the first round last Thursday, No. 4 seed and 25th-ranked NC State in the quarterfinals last Friday, then fell to top-seeded Duke in Saturday's semifinals.

Wake Forest holds an all-time series record of 3-2 against Minnesota. The teams last met in the 2001 ACC/Big Ten Challenge in Winston-Salem, when the Deacons beat the Golden Gophers, 85-79. Wake is 0-2 all-time against the Gophers in Minneapolis with those meetings coming during the 1962-63 and 1954-55 seasons.

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WFU Deacons in postseason play for 16th consecutive year
photo by Gene Galin

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