NIT: Terps left out of postseason


(Photo by Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

The Maryland men’s basketball team’s frustrating season fizzled away on Sunday evening, when the Terrapins were left out of the 2014 National Invitation Tournament field.

Carroll Williams, the acting chair of the NIT selection committee, told ESPN on the selection show’s television broadcast that the Terps were among the at-large teams considered for the field but were passed over, likely meaning that the influx of automatic bids — teams that won regular season conference championships but lost in their respective tournaments — pushed Maryland out. There were 13 NIT automatic bids this year in the 32-team field, second most since the tournament began using automatic qualifiers in 2006.

The Terps suffered an early exit from the ACC tournament this week, losing on a buzzer-beating dunk from Florida State center Boris Bojanovsky and officially extending their NCAA tournament drought to four seasons, the longest in program history since 1990-93. Afterwards, dejection reigned inside the locker room, as the players and coaches began to digest another disappointing season that had fallen short of expectations.

“Well, I don’t know what’s going to happen but I imagine we’re going to, like we’ve done all season, hopefully get better, hopefully get healthy,” Turgeon said Thursday after the 67-65 loss at Greensboro Coliseum, when asked about the possibility of reaching the NIT.

Maryland, the only team to beat a NCAA tournament No. 1 seed this season but miss both the NCAA tournament and the NIT, did not make Turgeon available to reporters Sunday night, but the team did issue the following statement:

“We’re disappointed our season came to an end, considering we played some of our best basketball down the stretch,” Turgeon said. “I look forward to our coaching staff and players working hard to take the necessary steps to advance our program.”

Last season, Maryland entered the NIT motivated following a run to the ACC semifinals and wound up winning three straight to reach the semifinals at Madison Square Garden. There, the Terps lost to Iowa. The other three semifinalists — Brigham Young, Baylor and the Hawkeyes — all made the NCAA tournament field this season.

This season took a different tone for the Terps. They held legitimate NCAA tournament aspirations during the preseason but fell behind early, thanks to nonconference home losses to Oregon State and Boston University. Maryland finished the season with two victories against top 50 RPI teams — Virginia and Providence, which also won its conference tournament title — and had zero sub-100 losses, but finished the season 5-15 against the top 100.

Invitations for the College Basketball Invitational will be extended on Sunday night, though the Terps are not expected to accept a bid if offered, given that it costs money to play.  Via text message, Turgeon said the Terps will not play in the College Basketball Invitational. Their season is over.

Guard Varun Ram was surprised at the snub.

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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