- The Washington Times - Monday, March 17, 2003

Georgetown will play Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn., tomorrow night at 7 in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament.
The Volunteers (17-11), from the Southeastern Conference, were one of the teams on the NCAA tournament bubble. The Vols finished with a 9-7 conference record and are ranked 60th in the nation in the Rating Percentage Index. They were bounced by Auburn 66-53 in the SEC tournament quarterfinals.
Tennessee is led by first-team All-SEC forward Ron Slay. Slay, who missed most of last season with a knee injury, led the conference in scoring this season at 21.6 points a game. He became the first Tennessee player to lead the SEC in scoring since Allan Houston (22.3) in 1993. The Associated Press named Slay its SEC player of the year last week.
The Vols are making their 10th appearance in the NIT and first since 1996.
Hoyas coach Craig Esherick did not return a call left at his office seeking comment. If Georgetown (15-14) beats Tennessee, it will play an undetermined second-round opponent in another road game.
Travel was the reason why Georgetown turned down a bid to the tournament last year.
The NIT tries to pair teams in the same geographic area in the early rounds. Last season's NIT blueprint called for the Hoyas to play at Richmond in the first round, and if they beat the Spiders, to play Arizona State in the second round. Subsequently, the Hoyas turned down the invitation.
In 2000, the Hoyas beat Virginia 115-111 in a three-overtime thriller in Charlottesville in the first round and then lost 60-49 at California. In 1998, the Hoyas opened the NIT at Florida with a 71-69 win and then lost to Georgia Tech 80-79 in Atlanta. In 1993, the Hoyas lost to Minnesota 62-61 in the championship game. This is the ninth time Georgetown has played in the NIT.
Georgetown is one of six schools representing the Big East in this year's tournament. Seton Hall (17-12), Boston College (18-11), Providence (16-13), St. John's (16-13) and Villanova (15-15) all join the Hoyas in the 40-team field.
Five other conferences the Atlantic 10, Atlantic Coast, Conference USA, Big Ten and Mountain West all had three teams chosen for the tournament, which gets under way tonight and concludes with the championship game at Madison Square Garden on April 3.
Villanova, which had 12 players suspended on March 9 for unauthorized use of a campus phone access code, will be limited to seven players as it was in its final regular-season game against Pittsburgh and its Big East tournament opening-round game against Georgetown.
Temple (15-15), Georgia Tech (14-14) and Virginia (15-15) were the other teams in the field with the minimum .500 record.
Charleston (24-8) had the most wins of the teams in the field and was one of eight schools in with 20 or more victories.
In addition to Temple, Rhode Island (19-10) and Richmond (15-13) were from the Atlantic 10, while Georgia Tech and Virginia were joined by fellow ACC school North Carolina (17-15).
DePaul (16-12), Saint Louis (16-13) and Alabama-Birmingham (19-12), which reached the conference tournament championship game, were chosen from Conference USA, while the Mountain West will have San Diego State (15-12), UNLV (20-10) and Wyoming (21-10).
Minnesota (16-12), Ohio State (17-14), which reached the conference championship game, and Iowa (15-13) were invited from the Big Ten.
The other 20-win teams were Boston University (20-10), Illinois-Chicago (21-8), Kent State (21-9), Valparaiso (20-10) and Louisiana-Lafayette (20-8).
The other teams invited were: Eastern Washington (18-12), Cal Santa Barbara (18-13), Iowa State (16-13), Texas Tech (18-12), Drexel (19-11), Brown (17-11), Fairfield (19-11), Siena (19-11), Western Michigan (19-10), Tennessee (17-11), Hawaii (19-11), Nevada (18-13) and Wichita State (18-11).
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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