Illinois State's bubble officially burst Sunday afternoon.
After much debate, the Redbirds were left out of the 2017 NCAA Tournament field in favor of other fringe squads like Kansas State, USC, Providence and Wake Forest. Their season isn't over quite yet, though.
The Redbirds were selected as a No. 1 seed in the NIT and will host UC Irving in an opening-round game on Wednesday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 8:30 p.m at Redbird Arena, where ISU has compiled an undefeated record this season.
Albeit disappointing to miss out on the Big Dance, ISU still has a chance to make postseason noise and knock off some of the biggest names in college hoops. This year's NIT field features premier programs like Indiana, Syracuse, Cal and, yes, their neighbors from Champaign, too.
It's also the last hoorah for Proviso East product Paris Lee, a senior who was named Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year. In Lee's fantastic senior campaign, he's put up 13.1 points, 5.0 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game.
Only Wichita State, who received an automatic bid, represents the MVC on this year's bracket. The Shockers square off against Dayton in the first round.