Maryland was on the NIT bubble a few weeks ago, but finishing out the year winning one of their last five has probably knocked them out of contention for the second-biggest postseason tournament. Much crazier things have happened than a team like the Terrapins sneaking into the NIT field, and hey, at least one group still says they're a bubble team, but as more auto-bids are taken up it'll get more and more difficult to sneak in. Indeed, the only other updated field I see still has them out, and looking at their resumé I'd be a little surprised to see an invite.
It's pretty obvious that if Maryland is invited to the NIT, they'd be wise to accept. They're still a young team, after all: Nick Faust is getting better every day, Alex Len is trying to refine himself, Ashton Pankey and Mychal Parker need minutes, and so on and so forth. Getting a game or two against more high-major bubble teams - usually pretty solid squads, mind you, and most of them better than Maryland - would be a huge boon for the Terrapins in terms of getting more experience. Plus I'm not quite ready to say goodbye to Sean Mosley just yet.
But what's a little less clear is if Maryland would have any interest in participating in the NIT's little brother, the CBI. (The CIT is out there but it's self-professed to be mid-major centric, which makes it a non-factor.) Gary Williams rejected a bid last year, choosing no postseason at all instead, but it's unknown whether Mark Turgeon feels the same.
On one hand, the idea of Maryland's youngsters getting more playing time is still an appetizing one. Given that Turgeon is building a system and they lose only two players to graduation next year, more competition is theoretically only a good thing, for sure And hey, a few pretty good squads in the CBI in the past: last year the runner-up was Creighton, which is a top-25 team this year, and before that VCU was the champion - of course, they went on a pretty nice little postseason run the following year.
At the same time, it's also tough not to view playing in the third-place tournament as a little embarrassing - some coaches have called playing in the NIT or CBI punishment, not reward, for players and fans, especially given that the CBI has no qualms inviting teams with losing records, or those who are willing to pay for a slot. (Obviously, all depends on fanbase expectations.) Which brings me to another point: the CBI is to some extent pay-to-play, with fees starting at $35,000 to host a home game. I believe visiting teams get expenses paid, which could make it a bit of a non-issue especially given that Comcast is already promised to the women's NCAAT, but that's always struck me as strange.
I'll say this in defense of the CBI, though: the idea of a best-of-three to determine the champion has always struck me as cool. And hey, the games are televised.
I've been staunchly noncommittal on the matter; I can't force myself to get excited about the CBI, but at the same time I do understand the positive impact it could have. Really, I just can't get myself worked up enough one way or the other to have any opinion.
So, what say you? Just want to end the pain now and get to November 9 as quickly as possible? Or do you want to watch more Maryland basketball? I'm interested to see fan opinion on this one.