The SMS Bears will have to win, what the NIT calls an “opening round” game, on Wednesday night as they host Rice at the Hammons Student Center. SMS is one of 16 teams that will try to play their way in to the field of 32. In other words SMS will have to win six games to win the championship, while Mizzou will have to win just five. The Bears enter the game 18-12 and make their first post season appearance since qualifying for the NIT in 2000. They lost to Ole Miss in the second round that year. Their last trip to the NCAA Tournament was in 1999 when they advanced to the Sweet 16. SMS has a record of 6-5 in the NIT and this will mark their sixth appearance in it. They made it as far as the quarterfinals in 1986 and 1993. The Bears enter Wednesday’s game with a record of 18-12 and the Owls are 19-11. This is the first meeting between the two. The winner will face either Davidson, which beat MU this season, or VCU.