A well-deserved reward for the Clemson men's basketball is looking to be a tough sell for the Tigers' marketing department.
Clemson is offering steep ticket discounts and incentives in an attempt to attract a respectable crowd for the Tigers' game Tuesday night against Sun Belt Conference regular-season champion Georgia State, which came up a bucket shy of punching its ticket for the NCAA's big dance.
Working against Clemson filling Littlejohn is the weekday 9 p.m. start, as well as the fact that the university is on spring break this week.
In response, Clemson is offering $10 general admission adult tickets, $4 admission for teens 13-18, and free admission to Clemson students and children 12 and under.
“It’s a challenge for our marketing department to get fans out there to support our team," said coach Brad Brownell after the NIT was announced Sunday evening. "I think our fans have been pleasantly surprised with our team and rallied around us. They’ve gotten to enjoy our style and how hard guys are competing. It will be a great credit for our fans to show up and support the guys.
"Unfortunately it’s spring break and we won’t have many students, and we know it’s a late start. But we, but we encourage everyone to come out and support the guys, especially for what they’ve done late in the year.”
As a No. 3 seed, with a victory over Georgia State the 20-12 Tigers would advance to the NIT's second round against the winner of the game between second-seeded Illinois and seventh-seeded Boston University.
Due to a scheduling conflict and unavailability of its home court, the Illini will play their opener at Boston.
Georgia State enters the NIT with a 25-8 record after winning 22 of its past 24 contests, including winning streaks of 14 and eight games.
The Panthers landed in the NIT after falling in the Sun Belt tournament championship game on Sunday afternoon, losing to Louisiana-Lafayette 82-81 in overtime in New Orleans.
Georgia State is led by Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year R.J. Hunter, who is averaging 18.4 points per game. Hunter has hit a GSU-record 98 three-pointers this season and also leads the team in steals.
Teammate Ryan Harrow averages 17.9 and is coming off a 37-point performance Sunday against Louisiana-Lafayette.
The Panthers average 77.9 points per game, and are second in the nation in fewest turnovers.
Georgia State is coached by Ron Hunter, whose teams have won 62 games in his first three seasons in Atlanta.
“(Harrow) is a great player,” Brownell said. “Coach Hunter has done a very good job. They play a lot of different kinds of defenses. They have some other division one transfers on their team. Coach Hunter’s son is a high-major player, but obviously chose Georgia State because of his father – was recruited by most schools in the Big Ten.
“It’s really a talented group and it will be tough first round matchup. “
Follow Kerry Capps on Twitter @oandwkc