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NKU takes on Louisville in first NIT appearance

The Northern Kentucky University Norse will tip off Tuesday night in the National Invitational Tournament. (NKU Athletics/Chloe Smith)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WKRC) - While Cincinnati, Xavier, and Kentucky prepare for their opening round matchups in the NCAA Tournament, another local team is also gearing up for postseason play.

The Northern Kentucky University Norse will tip off Tuesday night in the National Invitational Tournament.

Last season was the first year that the NKU men's basketball team was NCAA Tournament eligible after making the jump to division one.

And what did they do?

They punched their ticket to the Big Dance and went toe-to-toe with the mighty Wildcats of Kentucky. They lost that game but it was a huge win for the program.

Naturally, expectations were high this season. And they looked poised to make another tournament run, winning the Horizon League in the regular season.

But a loss to hapless Cleveland State in the first round of the conference tournament dashed their hopes, so the Norse will play in the NIT, still a major feat for a program that just a few years ago was still climbing the Division II ranks.

On Tuesday, they take on Louisville, who, conversely, was cutting down the nets in the NCAA Tournament just a handful of years ago. Now, the Cardinals are trying to recover from the turmoil and scandal left behind by former head coach Rick Pitino.

This marks the first trip to the NIT for NKU.

You can watch the game live on ESPN. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.

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