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nitlogoSeemingly all the stars aligned but one for UE’s National Invitation Tournament chances on Saturday.

First, Southern edged Prairie View A&M to follow up its regular-season SWAC championship with a tournament title.

Then Akron did the same in the MAC and Montana in the Big Sky.

But earlier in the day, Stephen F. Austin dropped a 68-66 decision to Northwestern State in the Southland tournament final and in doing so took one last automatic NIT bid.

“Unfortunately, Stephen F. Austin’s loss moved the Lumberjacks into the NIT field, replacing Evansville,” wrote Blake Hofstad of BracketologyExpert.com. “I’ve had a large contingent of Aces fans following my NIT Bracketology for weeks. There is still hope, but it doesn’t look good for Evansville.”

Eleven of the NIT’s 32 bids will be taken by automatic qualifiers — teams that won regular-season conference titles but won’t make the NCAA tournament field. That number was also 11 last year.

Hofstad’s latest NIT projection has the Aces out of the field, as does BracketologyExpert.com’s Daniel Evans. Both had UE in as of Saturday morning, before Stephen F. Austin’s loss, and still have Northern Iowa and Indiana State from the Missouri Valley Conference in.

The NIT field will be revealed at 8 p.m. on a special ESPN U selection show.

John Templon lists UE as the second team out of the NIT and projects the Aces will play Tennessee State in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament, a game that would be played at the Ford Center on Tuesday night.

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