TUESDAY, MARCH 17, 2009
Dolphins face Florida on Wednesday in the NIT
March Madness begins for the JU men’s basketball team on Wednesday night as the Dolphins take on Florida in the first round of the NIT at the O’Connell Center.

Tipoff is set for 8 p.m., with the game being broadcast on 1010XL as Barry Milligan and Artis Gilmore call the action. The Bono’s Barbecue pregame show starts at 7:30 p.m.

JU will be making its fifth appearance in the NIT and the first since 1987.

“Anytime that you are playing in March, you have to be excited,” said JU head coach Cliff Warren. “Florida is a very good basketball team that is well coached and will be ready to play. We are just working on improving, each practice and each game.”

The Dolphins (18-13) will be playing their 32nd game of the season, the most ever in a season. Senior Marcus Allen will be playing in his 118th as a Dolphin, breaking a tie with legend Otis Smith for the all-time school record.

JU will also be looking to shed some demons.

Florida owns a 26-4 lead in the all-time series and has won all but one meeting at home. The Dolphins only win in Gainesville came in 1994, led by Hall of Famer Micah Ross. Since then, JU has lost seven straight games against the Gators – including six on the road.

JU will also be looking for a breakthrough win against a BCS school. The Dolphins have lost 37 straight against the power conferences, dating back to the 1994 win against the Gators and including JU’s five losses in non-conference play back in November and December.

Aiding the Dolphins is their experiences from the rigorous non-conference schedule. JU faced NCAA Tournament participants Florida State (lost by 2), American (lost by 8), Ohio State (lost by 13) and ETSU (won one of three meetings this season).

In all, JU faced eight teams that advanced to the postseason, including fellow NIT participants Georgetown and Baylor.

“Our non-conference schedule was designed to get us ready for conference play,” Warren said. “When you get to the postseason, it becomes an even more valuable experience especially when you face eight teams that are playing in the postseason.”