Updated on March 12 at 9:54 p.m.
After posting its most successful regular season in decades, the men’s basketball team is headed to the postseason.
Columbia (19-11, 8-6 Ivy) accepted a bid to play in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament, in which the Lions will take on Valparaiso as their first opponent. The Crusaders (18-15) finished fourth in the Horizon League this season with a conference record of 9-7, and are coming off a league title and NCAA tournament appearance in 2012-13. Columbia has not played a postseason game since the 1967-68 season.
“It’s something we aspire to every year, to have postseason opportunities, so it’s nice to see it come to fruition,” Columbia head coach Kyle Smith said. “We’ve had a couple seasons since I’ve been here where last couple of weeks to go we had opportunities and weren’t able to finish it—this year we did. Our guys are excited.”
This season the Light Blue posted its highest overall win total since 1969-70 and its highest Ivy League win total since 1992-93. But despite all their success, the Lions’ regular season ended with a disappointing loss to Princeton on their home court, and according to Smith the team is looking forward to having a chance to get the bad taste out of its mouth.
“I think every home game this year we really competed pretty darn well, gave ourselves a chance to win, and Princeton—they outplayed us,” Smith said. “I think it’s important that you get another shot at it. It’s a new season.”
Valparaiso boasts a number of weapons. Guard LaVonte Dority is the team’s leading scorer, averaging 16.0 points per game. But the Crusaders also have a number of capable big men and have outrebounded opponents by an average of 4.3 boards per game.
“I took a quick look at them and they’re very big and physical team. From what I just saw, they get on the glass, they shoot the ball pretty well from the field and from three,” Smith said. “It’ll be a really good challenge to go on their floor.”
The Lions will not be the only Ivy League squad competing in the CIT, as Brown was offered and accepted a bid as well and will host Holy Cross on Monday.
The Crusaders will host Columbia on March 18 in Valparaiso, Ind.