- The Washington Times - Monday, March 17, 2008

And so it has come to this: Maryland cannot even play host to an NIT home game.

The Terrapins’ tumble from near-NCAA tournament lock to fodder for another postseason tournament in a span of a month was completed last night, with coach Gary Williams’ team granted a No. 5 seed and shipped to Minnesota for a first-round game in the NIT tomorrow night.

Meanwhile, Virginia Tech, one of the final teams left out of the NCAA tournament field, earned a No. 1 seed and could meet in-state foe Virginia Commonwealth in the second round.

It is the third NIT appearance in four years for Maryland, which at least got to play at cushy Comcast Center until the semifinals in 2005 and during an ignominious one-game flameout in 2006. But the Terps were shipped out to play at 9:30 p.m. against the Golden Gophers (20-13), who reached the Big Ten semifinals in coach Tubby Smith’s first season.

The Terps (18-14), who dropped five of their last six, have played Minnesota just once in the last 45 years — an 83-66 victory in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge in November 2005.

Virginia Tech’s first-round opponent is MEAC regular-season champion Morgan State, which lost in the league final Saturday. The Bears (22-10), who have won 15 of 17, will visit Cassell Coliseum on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

The high seeding is likely little consolation for the Hokies (19-13), who a few hours earlier became the first ACC team since 1975 to win 10 games against league opponents in the regular season and the conference tournament and still miss the NCAA tournament.

Virginia Commonwealth (24-7) also will play host to a first-round game Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Rams, who automatically qualified for the NIT as the CAA’s regular season champ, will play host to UAB (22-10).

Arizona State, Ohio State and Syracuse joined Virginia Tech as the tournament’s No. 1 seeds.

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