OKLAHOMA CITY — College basketball's third postseason tournament is here to stay.

Rick Giles, the president of the College Basketball Invitational, said Thursday that the alternative to the National Invitation Tournament considers its first year a success and plans a similar event next year.

In the shadows of the Final Four and the NIT, the CBI will crown its champion tonight when Tulsa (24-14) hosts Bradley (21-16) in Game 3 of the championship series.

Initially met with skepticism as a tournament to crown the 98th-best team, the CBI has gained momentum at least in the cities where the games have been played. Tulsa drew its second-largest crowd of the season in Game 1 of the championship series, and Bradley had 9,014 fans — about 600 shy of its season average — on hand for Game 2.

More than 6,300 tickets had been sold for the decisive third game at Tulsa's 8,355-seat Reynolds Center.

Giles called the 16-team tournament a "terrific" success, in part because of competitive games and strong crowds that organizers couldn't have predicted.

For Tulsa and Bradley, it's been a chance to gain momentum after seasons that would have otherwise just been so-so.

"I think as that word gets out to others, I think both coaching-wise and administratively, that's going to have a big benefit for us," Giles said.