ACC All Access: Virginia will be up early to host Sunday's 11 a.m. NIT second round game vs. St. John's

After hanging with the night owls at tipoff in Tuesday's win against Norfolk State in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament, Virginia will need to have an early wake-up call for Sunday's second NIT game.

U.Va. will tipoff its matchup against St. John's (17-15) on Sunday morning at 11 in Charlottesville. If tickets were a tough sell for Tuesday's late start at 9 p.m., which drew an announced crowd of 4,790 fans, it might be an even bigger chore to get fans through the doors of John Paul Jones Arena by 11 on a Sunday morning that's forecasted to be snowy, rainy and cold.

Though the early start may not be the best development in terms of expected fan turnout, U.Va. will still get good exposure out of the second round game, which is an even more important element of postseason participation than ticket sales. ESPN will televise the game, which won't have to compete with NCAA tournament third round game television coverage at the tip.

U.Va. (22-11), which is the top seed in its portion of the NIT bracket, defeated No. 8 seed Norfolk State 67-56. St. John's, which is a No. 5 seed, beat No. 4 seed St. Joseph's 63-61 on Tuesday night.

General public tickets for Sunday's game are $10, and parking is free, but U.Va. students will be admitted for free. Still, it'll be a tough draw for U.Va. fans.

In 2011, when Virginia Tech lost 79-76 in overtime to Wichita State in a second round NIT game that started at 11 on a Sunday morning in Blacksburg, the Hokies drew just 4,382 fans to Cassell Coliseum. Students were admitted free to that game, too. Of course, that was almost 1,500 fans more than Tech had four nights earlier on a Wednesday at 8 for its NIT first round win against Bethune-Cookman - another game in which students were admitted free.

Tech players woke up at 7 a.m. for the Wichita State game. They met at 9:30 in Cassell Coliseum - an unusually early start for a non-practice day.


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Tech also played at 11 a.m. on a Saturday in '09 in Blacksburg when it lost 84-66 to Baylor in the second round of the NIT. An announced crowd of 6,891 fans made it to Cassell Coliseum for the loss.

If those turnouts are any gauge at all, U.Va. should probably be pleased to see anything over 5,000 fans in the house Sunday morning. It may not equal much of a home court advantage.

U.Va.'s path to the semifinal round in New York City might've potentially gotten easier based on Wednesday night's NIT first round results. In U.Va.'s side of the bracket, No. 7 seed Stony Brook defeated No. 2 seed Massachusetts 71-58. Also, No. 3 seed Iowa beat No. 6 seed Indiana State 68-52.

Now, the winner of Sunday's St. John's-U.Va. game will play Tuesday or Wednesday against the winner of the Stony Brook (25-7)-Iowa (22-12) game with a trip to play April 2 in New York City's Madison Square Garden in the NIT semifinals on the line. The NIT championship is April 4 in Madison Square Garden.


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