The University of North Texas is set to host the National Invitational Tournament in conjunction with Conference USA.

The annual event serves as a secondary tournament to the NCAA men’s basketball championship.

The NIT reached an extension with the Madison Square Garden Co. in 2019 that was set to keep the event in New York City through the 2021 championship.

The tournament has been moved to Dallas-Fort Worth this year in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The UNT Coliseum and the Comerica Center in Frisco will host tournament games.

UNT made the announcement in conjunction with the NIT on Monday. The field will include 16 teams this season.

First-round games will be played March 17-20 before the tournament culminates with the championship game on March 28. This year’s tournament will be the 83rd in the storied history of the event.

All 16 games will be broadcast on ESPN or ESPN2.

North Texas athletic director Wren Baker is among eight members of the NIT committee.

“We are thrilled to partner with the city of Frisco and Conference USA to host this year’s NIT in the DFW area,” Baker said in a statement. “The NIT has incredible history and tradition, and we are honored to co-host the event. We look forward to working with Conference USA to make the tournament special for participating student-athletes and coaches.”

The tournament bracket will be released at 7:30 p.m. March 14 after the field for the NCAA tournament has been released.

The NIT has been played since 1938 and is the nation’s oldest postseason tournament.

The UNT Coliseum seats 10,500 and was once considered one of the top basketball venues in the Southwest. UNT hosted first- and second-round games in the 1976 and 1980 NCAA Tournaments.

The venue also hosted the Southland Conference men’s basketball tournament in 1988 and the Sun Belt Conference men’s and women’s tournaments in 2005.

UNT spent $8 million to renovate the coliseum concourse in 2017.

This season’s NIT will feature some of the top teams in country after the NCAA tournament field is filled. The University of Texas beat Lipscomb University in the final of last season’s tournament.

“We are very excited to join with the University of North Texas to host a nationally respected event with a rich history like the NIT,” C-USA commissioner Judy MacLeod said. “We take great pride in the opportunity and are determined to provide the best postseason experience possible for teams, fans and the DFW community.”

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.

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