After season goes south, Terps head north for NIT

The Baltimore Sun

Making the best out of a bad situation, Maryland was hoping to host its opening-round game in the National Invitation Tournament.

Now the Terrapins will try to make the best out of a really bad situation, having to go on the road for the first round of the NIT.

Loser of five of its past six games, fifth-seeded Maryland (18-14) will face fourth-seeded Minnesota (20-13) tomorrow in a 9:30 p.m. game at Williams Arena in Minneapolis.

It marks the third trip to the NIT in the past four seasons for the Terps.

It also marks the first time Maryland will play a road game in the NIT since coach Gary Williams' first season, when the Terps lost a second-round game at Penn State in 1990.

The Gophers are coached by Tubby Smith, who went to Minnesota this season from Kentucky, where he won a national championship in his first season but never could win over the fans who still clamored for Rick Pitino.

Minnesota upset then-No. 22 Indiana in the second round of the Big Ten tournament on a shot at the buzzer before losing to Illinois. Maryland lost in the opening round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament to Boston College.

It is not surprising that the NIT selection committee, which now operates under the auspices of the NCAA, decided to send the Terps on the road. Mary land drew around 5,000 fans for its NIT opener in 2006, when the Terps lost to Manhattan.

Williams was not available to comment.

Morgan State (22-10), which saw its chance of going to the NCAA Division I tournament for the first time disappear when it lost to Coppin State in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament championship game Saturday night in Raleigh, N.C., will play as a No. 8 seed in the NIT against top seed Virginia Tech (19-13) at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Blacksburg.

don.markus@baltsun.com

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