With Jonesboro, Ark., and Memphis only 75 miles apart, a basketball rivalry seemed natural. But so far, Arkansas State coach Nelson Catalina hasn't been able to talk Memphis State coach Larry Finch into it.
Now, he has a plan."I'm sure if we go over there and get drubbed Monday he will probably want to schedule us next year," Catalina said.
Arkansas State (22-8) travels to Memphis on Monday for a second-round NIT game against the Tigers (17-14).
"I have a lot of fans ask me about why we don't play Memphis State," Catalina said. "I guess the best way to say it is that Larry told me that he had some leftovers on their schedule they were obligated to and had to fill. That did not leave space for us."
The two teams haven't played since 1988.
Monday's other NIT games are Wyoming (20-11) at Colorado (16-13), Virginia (17-13) at Providence (18-12), Cincinnati (18-11) at Oklahoma (17-14), Stanford (16-13) at Wisconsin (15-14), and Southern Illinois (17-13) at Southwest Missouri State (22-11).
Two games on Tuesday have Massachusetts (18-11) at Fordham (25-7), and South Carolina (20-12) at Siena (24-9).
Arkansas State advanced with a 78-71 first-round win over Rice at Jonesboro. Memphis State beat Alabama-Birmingham 82-76 at Memphis.
Wyoming coach Benny Dees was not looking forward to the game against Colorado, but Colorado coach Joe Harrington was.
"I think they are playing very well and our team hasn't been playing well lately, so I dread it," he said.
Colorado beat Michigan 71-64 to get into the second round, while Wyoming beat Butler 63-61.
"What we need is a Wyoming-Colorado matchup - a game of great area interest that would give us a sellout," Harrington said. "I'm not putting Butler down, but Wyoming-Colorado would be a much greater draw."
Southwest Missouri and Southern Illinois is a matchup of Missouri Valley Conference rivals. The Salukis, who defeated Boise State 75-74 in the opening round, and the Bears split two meetings during the regular season. Southwest Missouri beat Coppin State 57-47 in the opening round.