CONNECTICUT, just the sixth defending national champion not to make the NCAA field since it was expanded to 64 teams in 1985, will have to continue postseason play in the NIT.

"It's experience. As a man, you grow up, you have experiences . . . and you go back and you learn from it," UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. "Just like everything in life, you got postseason. There's no next day."

Temple, Old Dominion, Colorado State and Richmond, the first four teams left out of the NCAA Tournament were automatically given the top seeds for the first time in the NIT field, which was announced last night.

Temple (23-10), which finished third in the American Athletic, was passed over in favor of teams like Dayton and UCLA after losing to SMU in the conference tournament.

The Owls will now try to make a run in the NIT, starting with Wednesday's home game against Bucknell.

Temple wasn't the only AAC team snubbed by the NCAA Tournament committee.

The league got just two teams in the top tournament - league champion SMU and Cincinnati - while teams such as Tulsa (22-10) were relegated to the NIT.

Murray State, which reached the Top 25 after going unbeaten in the Ohio Valley Conference, suffered a heartbreaking one-point loss to Belmont in the league tournament finals.

The Racers (27-5) are a No. 3 seed and will open against UTEP (22-10).

"We're excited about getting into the NIT. We just had to flip the script. Obviously they're disappointed. I thought we had earned the right to get into [the NCAA] field," Murray State coach Steve Prohm said. "They'll be fine. They've always played with a chip on their shoulder."

Old Dominion (24-7), which finished second in Conference USA, is the top seed in Murray State's quadrant.

Colorado State (27-6), which saw fellow Mountain West team Wyoming get in the NCAA Tournament as a 12 seed, will face the winner of Saint Mary's and Vanderbilt should it get past South Dakota State (23-10).

Notable high majors in the field include Pittsburgh (19-14), Stanford (19-13), Texas A&M (20-11), Miami (21-12), Illinois (19-13), Arizona State (17-15) and Alabama (18-14), which plans on competing despite dismissing coach Anthony Grant earlier yesterday.

Grant, who Grant finished with a 117-85 record in six seasons at the school, was making $1.9 million annually through 2019 with a buyout of some $4 million, which would be reduced if he lands another job.

Arizona State will play at UConn (20-14) on Wednesday with a possible date against Richmond looming in the second round.