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UCF set to play usf in the first round of the NIT Tournament

By Nick Williams

The War on I4 is back and in full fledged fan rivalry mode. The 4-seeded UCF Knights are set to take on the USF Bulls in the first round of the National Invitational Tournament (NIT). The 17-15 Knights are set to host the 24-7 Bulls in Addition Arena at 9 PM this Tuesday, March 19th.

Wondering where you can watch? ESPN+ has you covered as well as Antonio Brown’s live and post-game Tweets. That’s right, Antonio Brown tweeted out on Sunday shortly after the games announcement that he will be in attendance once again.

For many fans, the NIT tournament can be lackluster however this game has a tension that has been built up by both fan bases and more. This matchup is marked on the calendars of not just Bulls and Knights but also the fans of multiple universities located in Florida.

For Bulls fans, this season has been historic, first Top 25 AP Poll and USA Today Coaches Poll, took down #10 Memphis at their home arena, beat their new rival FAU in Tampa when FAU was ranked 24th, and became American Athletic Conference Regular Season Champions for the first time in program history. These achievements have stirred up the controversy among fan bases that USF is the “best basketball program in the state of Florida.”

Whether or not this game results in anything other than bragging rights, we can expect to watch a great matchup between the two. If UCF wins this, it will not be the first time the Knights have got to throw the horns down this season.

Despite being tied for 11th place in the Big 12 Conference out of 14 teams, UCF exceeded expectations for being a newcomer joining the best basketball conference in the nation. With a win against #3 Kansas at home, a win against Texas away (first horns down gesture of the season), two wins against #23 teams Oklahoma and Texas Tech and garnering the attention of celebrities across the nation, this season has been one to remember for the Knights.

This will be the second consecutive season the Knights have made the NIT and the third appearance in the tournament under Head Coach Johnny Dawkins. Last season the Knights advanced to the second round of the NIT after defeating in-state opponent Florida 67-49 and then later losing to Oregon 68-54.

Home court advantage for the Knights might be the key to a victory and a way of keeping their postseason dreams alive. UCF is 12-9 when they play host to USF and eight of their last nine have been wins. South Florida holds a 4-8 record in the NIT and all four of their NIT wins have been at their home court. It is also fair to mention this week is spring break for all UCF students, will this play a factor? Only time will tell.

ESPN’s matchup predictor gives UCF a 77% chance of victory and a 23% chance to USF. ESPN BET also has USF as the underdog with +180 money line whereas UCF sits at a -210.

Whether you’re in the arena or sitting on your couch at home, make sure to bring the energy, passion, and fan spirit to cheer on your UCF Knights.

For all the latest updates on UCF Knights Basketball, follow Sidelines UCF on Twitter.

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