Shut out of NIT, Terps shut down for season

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Maryland’s march off the court after Friday’s ACC tournament loss to Duke proved to be the end of the Terrapins’ season.

The Terps (19-14) were left out of the NIT when its 32-team field was unveiled on Sunday, the first time Maryland missed both the NCAA tournament and the NIT since 1993.

When asked via text message if Maryland would be in the College Basketball Invitational, a team spokesman replied, “No.”

Thus Maryland’s 17-year postseason streak — the longest active one in the ACC — comes to an end. The Terps went 4-13 against the combined fields of the NCAA tournament and the NIT.

Coach Gary Williams expressed surprise at the Terps’ exclusion in a statement released by the school on Sunday.

“After 19 wins and beating Penn State, Florida State and Clemson, it’s disappointing that we’re not at least in the NIT,” Williams said. “We played right with Duke for 35 minutes and got a win in the ACC tournament, it’s kind of surprising we weren’t selected.”

Four ACC teams were picked for the NCAA tournament. Three more — Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech — were among the top eight seeds in the NIT.

Maryland was one of the apparent victims of the NIT’s rule requiring it invites any regular season conference winner that does not win its league tournament. There were 14 automatic berths granted for the 32-team field, enough to squeeze out the Terps.

“We had a large at-large pool,” committee chairman C.M. Newton said during the NIT selection show  on ESPN. “We were very selective because of all the [automatic qualifiers].”

The Terps will lose three seniors (guards Adrian Bowie and Cliff Tucker and forward Dino Gregory) off this year’s team. There is also the possibility sophomore forward Jordan Williams will explore his NBA options in the coming months, though he said he hadn’t thought about the NBA before last week’s ACC tournament.

Whatever Williams decides — rather than a postseason date — now looms as the basketball program’s next major event. If he remains in school, he will be the anchor of a team that will also feature soon-to-be-sophomore guards Pe’Shon Howard and Terrell Stoglin in larger roles than this past season.

“We worked very hard to get to where we were with 19 wins this year,” Gary Williams said. “We’re looking forward to the start of next season.”

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