Cal Poly

Cal Poly men's basketball could play in a national tournament after all

ANAHEIM — It’s looking like the Cal Poly men’s basketball season will live on despite a crushing last-second loss in the Big West Conference Tournament semifinals late Friday.

Mustangs athletic director Don Oberhelman said the program has received interest from both the College Basketball Invitational and the Tournament and hopes to accept an official invitation to one of the postseason tournaments today.

“We’re attractive to both of them,” Oberhelman said. “It’s just a matter of where we fit in their puzzle. I think we’ll land somewhere to be able to keep playing, which is obviously what we want to do, and there’s great value to being able to keep playing.

“The more games we can get in, let’s keep playing and keep winning and keep the ride going for as long as we can.”

If a berth materializes, it would be the first appearance in a national postseason tournament for Cal Poly since moving up to Division I for the 1994-95 season.

Oberhelman put the chances of Cal Poly hosting a game in either tournament at less than 50 percent. They each charge fees to host games, and the programs with the larger athletic budgets are more likely to afford the cost.

Founded in 2008, the CBI features teams from high-major conferences as well as mid-majors that were left out of the NCAA and NIT tournaments. Pittsburgh beat Washington State for the title last season, and a Big West program has yet to land a team in the 16-team bracket.

The CIT showcases mid-major programs and has seen its bracket grow from 16 teams its first year in 2009 to 32 teams in 2012, when Big West representatives UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Fullerton both participated.

Pacific appeared in the CIT in 2009 and 2010, falling to Missouri State in the championship game in 2010. Mercer beat Santa Clara for the 2012 CIT championship.

Cal Poly (18-13) fell 55-53 to the Tigers on a last-second buzzer-beater in the semifinals of the Big West Tournament at Honda Center on Friday.

“We’re attractive because we’re pretty good,” Oberhelman said. “They’re looking how they can pair people up with other teams on the West Coast. Some of it’s probably going to come down to that.”