For the first time in 17 years, Maryland basketball has missed both the NCAA Tournament and the NIT. Yes, you read that right: Maryland, an NIT bubble team heading into tonight, was left out of the tournament's field.
And yes, I think it's safe to say that things probably have hit rock bottom.
Actually, let's not get too carried away: I suppose it's possible that Gary Williams declined a bid, maybe pre-emptively. He wanted to do it last time, but Debbie Yow blocked him, so the precedent is certainly there. With such a young team, though, that would surprise me. It's more likely, at least to me, that Maryland was just left out.
Maryland could end up going into the CBI, an even smaller tournament, but I don't see the point to it. You go to the NIT to get more experience against good teams. That theory doesn't work when you're playing the JMUs, North Floridas, and cupcakes of the world. Playing in a tournament that meaningless seems...well, meaningless. And, for that matter, a huge punishment.
If Maryland turned down a CBI bid...well, I guess they could get a leg up on recruiting, if nothing else. And save us fans a lot of pain.
UPDATE: Maryland will turn down a CBI bid, says Patrick Stevens.
Supposing they turned down a CBI bid, this would be the first time since 1992-93 that Maryland missed the postseason. That was Gary Williams' fourth year at Maryland, and the likely birth year of next year's incoming freshmen (whoa). The good news: the last time Maryland was left out of the NIT, they went to the Sweet 16 the next year. Good omen?
If you want to get a good laugh, read through the reactions in the open thread. But as for a conclusion to the post, well, I'll leave that to my good friend and co-writer, Dave Tucker, who messaged me on Google Talk:
We missed the [censored]ing NIT?!?!?!
Yes, Mr. Tucker, we did.
Hey, we're a football school now. 176 days until football season.