Maryland may not have made the NCAAs, but for the first time in two years they won't be sitting around at home in March.
The NCAA Tournament may have proved a bridge too far for this now-quickly-gelling team, but the season isn't over for the Maryland Terrapins. The Terps have received a #2 seed in the NIT, their first chance at postseason play since 2010, and will face the Niagara Purple Eagles in the first round of the tournament.
That game will take place at 7:00 on Tuesday at the Comcast Center in College Park, and should the Terps win they'd face the winner of the Denver Pioneers and Ohio Bobcats game in the second round. The Terps would play that contest at home, as well, not needing to leave the confines of the Comcast Center unless they met the Alabama Crimson Tide in the regional finals - or, should the Tide not make it that far, until the final four.
The Purple Eagles went 19-13 and won the MAAC regular season, notching half-decent wins against Loyola (on the road) and New Mexico State but falling in their conference tournament. We'll have more on them as the game approaches.
As I mentioned earlier, while it burns to not be in the NCAAs, the chance to play in the NIT is actually a welcome one for the Terps, which is somewhat unusual for big-name programs. It's been two years now without postseason play, and finally getting some bonus basketball is a nice reward for both the players and the fans. And as Mark Turgeon said on ESPNU right after the Terps were announced, the Terps are a young team that would benefit from playing more games and continuing to come together. "We wanted more games," Turgeon said. And if they play those games like they did the last three, well, I imagine most fans will want to watch more games, too.
Check the full bracket here. I've said this several times now, but if the Terps' three-game run in the ACC Tourney wasn't another false dawn, and if they can replicate that level of energy and performance for a few more games, there's not a name in that group I fear. And yes, if Maryland can get past Alabama, full-on chalk in the other brackets would give the Terps a go at Virginia and Kentucky in MSG. Maybe some teams struggle to get up for the NIT, but I imagine Maryland would savor a chance at revenge.