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2014 CIT headlined by solid group of mid-major programs

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The sixth annual CollegeInsider.com Postseason Basketball Tournament — better known as the CIT — tips off this week as 32 teams compete for the postseason crown.

The field has a strong group of mid-to-low major programs from across the country and should be loaded with teams hoping to capitalize on a chance to play in the postseason.

Akron and IPFW is the best first-round matchup this week as the Zips finished second in the MAC East standings while the Mastodons fell just short of making the NCAA Tournament after falling to league champion North Dakota State. Canisius and high-scoring senior guard Billy Baron will also be a team to track in this year’s field as he averaged 24.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game on the year.

First Round 

Monday, March 17

Holy Cross (19-13) at Brown (15-13)

Tuesday, March 18
VMI (19-12) at Canisius (20-12)
Wright State (20-14) at East Carolina (17-16)
Norfolk State (19-14) at Eastern Michigan (21-14)
Chattanooga (18-14) at ETSU (18-15)
Columbia (19-12) at Valparaiso (18-15)
Alabama State (19-12) at Sam Houston State (23-10)
Portland State (17-14) at San Diego (16-16)

Wednesday, March 19
Quinnipiac (20-11) at Yale (15-13)
Towson (23-10) at USC Upstate (19-14)
Cleveland State (21-11) at Ohio (23-11)
Akron (21-12) at IPFW (24-10)
Murray State (18-11) at Missouri State (20-12)
North Dakota (17-16) at Nebraska-Omaha (16-14)
Texas A&M Corpus Christi (17-15) at Northern Colorado (18-13)
Pacific (15-15) at Grand Canyon (15-14)

Second Round: March 21-22

Quarterfinals: March 25-27

Semifinals: April 1

Championship: April 3

Akron reveals special bobble heads for LeBron, high school teammates

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When it comes to discussing some of the game of basketball’s best players, specifically those who went directly from high school to the NBA, a question that’s often asked is where said player would have attended college if forced (by rule) to do so. Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are among those who have been discussed in this manner, and in the case of LeBron he’s got connections to two programs within his home state of Ohio.

LeBron’s connected with the Ohio State program, which is outfitted by the Nike’s LeBron signature line, but there’s another program with an even closer connection. That would be Akron, which is led by head coach Keith Dambrot, and all he did was serve as LeBron’s high school coach at St. Vincent/St. Mary’s HS in Akron during the player’s freshman and sophomore years at the school. Also on those teams were two future Akron Zips in guard Dru Joyce and forward Romeo Travis.

Thursday the school announced that it would be honoring James, Joyce and Travis with bobble head dolls to be given out before Akron’s home games against Buffalo (February 16; Joyce’s bobble head), Bowling Green (February 26; Travis) and Ohio (March 1; James).

All three bobble head dolls are wearing Akron uniforms, which in the case of LeBron allows fans to think back and imagine what could have been. Season ticket holders guaranteed one bobble head per account (on each of the three giveaway days), with the first 750 fans in attendance to receive one as well.

NEW PODCAST: Indiana, Cal, troublesome trends and a weekend preview

California's Jabari Bird celebrates a score against Oregon in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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The gang is back together again for another episode of the NBCSports.com College Basketball Talk Podcast, with Rob Dauster hosting and Raphielle Johnson and Scott Phillips joining him. Today’s episode touched on big wins picked up Thursday night by California and Indiana, discussing the performances of those teams and also touching on their prospects down the line.

Also discussed were the recent performances of Iowa State, Providence and Texas A&M (which are you more worried about?), and some of the top games on this weekend’s schedule headlined by Kansas visiting Oklahoma. And if you’re a fan of seafood, you may take umbrage with some of Rob’s comments at the beginning of the podcast.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast on either iTunes or Stitcher, and there’s also a link to listen to this podcast below. Thanks for listening.