It is spring break season, after all. So why not book a trip to Florida?

After a couple days of uncertainty the Colorado men's basketball team learned Sunday evening its season indeed will continue, as the Buffaloes received an invitation to the National Invitation Tournament.

CU earned a No. 5 seed and will travel to Orlando to face fourth-seeded Central Florida on Wednesday night at 5 p.m. MDT. The Buffs have faced Central Florida just once, earning a 96-87 win at home on Jan. 3, 2007.

The Knights are coached by Johnny Dawkins, who spent the past eight seasons with the Buffs' Pac-12 Conference rivals at Stanford. UCF features 7-foot-6 center Tacko Fall, who averages 11.1 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks.

"I think the guys are excited to still have an opportunity to play," CU coach Tad Boyle said. "The NCAA is certainly the more prestigious tournament and the one everybody wants to be in, ourselves included. But the NIT is a great opportunity. We're going to play some good teams if we have the opportunity to advance. We're going to see a good one in Central Florida, the best defensive field goal percentage team in the country."

The winner between CU and Central Florida will face either UC-Irvine or top-seeded Illinois State in the second round on a date to be determined between March 16-20. Syracuse, Iowa, and the Pac-12's Cal received the other three No. 1 seeds.

One other Pac-12 team reached the 32-team field, with Utah receiving a No. 3 seed in CU's quadrant.


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It is the seventh consecutive postseason appearance for the Buffs in seven seasons under Boyle, a ledger that includes four NCAA Tournament berths and an appearance in the College Basketball Invitational two years ago. CU also reached the NIT as one of the top seeds at the end of Boyle's first season in 2011, winning three home games before bowing out in a one-point decision against Alabama in the national semifinals at Madison Square Garden.

Boyle said the Buffs would not have competed in the CBI this time if an NIT bid hadn't arrived.

"We'll be fine with the travel," Boyle said. "We're going to have to go on the road and win, which is a great challenge. It starts at Central Florida on Wednesday."

The NIT will be played under experimental rules designed to test the waters regarding a potential move from halves to four-quarter games in college basketball. Each half in the NIT will be broken down into 10-minute segments. Each team will be allowed four fouls per 10-minute segment, with the foul counts re-setting to zero once the game clock reaches 9 minutes, 59 seconds in each half.

Following the fourth foul of each 10-minute segment, teams will shoot two free throws instead of one-and-the bonus. The one-and-the bonus format will not be used in the NIT. In overtime, each team gets three fouls before reaching the two-shot bonus.

Peters getting closer

Boyle said suspended freshman guard Bryce Peters will travel with the team after remaining in Boulder last week during the Pac-12 Conference tournament. CU's coach indicated that the status of Peters, who has missed the past six games due to a violation of team rules, may be reassessed before Wednesday's game.

Pat Rooney: rooneyp@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/prooney07

NIT schedule

First Round

Tuesday

Mississippi (20-13) at Monmouth (27-6), 5 p.m.

UNC-Greensboro (25-9) at Syracuse (18-14), 5 p.m.

Valparaiso (24-8) at Illinois (18-14), 5:15 p.m.

Oakland (24-8) at Clemson (17-15), 6 p.m.

Indiana (18-15) at Georgia Tech (17-15), 7 p.m.

College of Charleston (25-9) at Colorado State (23-11), 7 p.m.

Richmond (20-12) at Alabama (19-14), 7:15 p.m.

Boise St. (19-11) at Utah (20-11), 8 p.m.

CS Bakersfield (22-9) at California (21-12), 9:15 p.m.

Wednesday

South Dakota (22-11) at Iowa (18-14), 5 p.m.

Belmont (22-6) at Georgia (19-14), 5 p.m.

Colorado (19-14) at UCF (21-11), 5 p.m.

Akron (26-8) at Houston (21-10), 5:30 p.m.

Fresno St. (20-12) at TCU (19-15), 6 p.m.

Texas-Arlington (25-8) at BYU (22-11), 7 p.m.

UC Irvine (21-14) at Illinois State (27-6), 7:30 p.m.

Second Round

March 16-20

UNC-Greensboro-Syracuse winner vs. Mississippi-Monmouth winner

Indiana-Georgia Tech winner vs. Belmont-Georgia winner

CS Bakersfield-California winner vs. College of Charleston-Colorado State winner

Texas-Arlington-BYU winner vs. Akron-Houston winner

UC Irvine-Illinois State winner vs. Colorado-UCF winner

Boise St.-Utah winner vs. Valparaiso-Illinois winner

South Dakota-Iowa winner vs. Fresno St.-TCU winner

Richmond-Alabama winner vs. Oakland-Clemson winner

Quarterfinals

March 21-22

Semifinals

At Madison Square Garden

New York

Tuesday, March 28

Semifinal, 5 p.m.

Semifinal 7:30 p.m.

Championship

Thursday, March 29

Semifinal winners, 6 p.m.