Maryland misses the NIT: In a season of near misses, the Terps come up short yet again

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Not being selected to the NIT brings to close a disappointing season of Maryland basketball that was full of near misses and what ifs.

Whelp. I did not see that coming. Maryland was left out of the NIT field last night, apparently being the second team out of the event. Despite being the 43rd best team according to Kenpom rankings (which unfortunately aren't used by the selection committee), Maryland was left out of the NIT field. In terms of RPI, a flawed ranking system that is used by the committee, the Terps finished the season ranked 75th.

Based on our research and confirmed by some on Twitter, Maryland is the highest rated Kenpom team to miss out on both the NIT and NCAA Tournament since the NCAA took over the NIT in 2006:

All of the top 61 teams in KenPom's rankings are playing in the NIT or NCAA Tournament, except for Maryland. The next highest KenPom exclusion was Marquette, who ranked 62nd.

Just for comparison's sake, let's take a look at the profiles of two teams, using RPI numbers; one received an NCAA Tournament at-large bid, the other is Maryland.

Team A                                                    Team B

Sub 150:  10-0                                      Sub 150:  7-0

Top 150:  11-13                                     Top 150:  9-15

Top 100:  6-10                                      Top 100:  4-14

Top 50:  3-9                                           Top 50:  2-9

Top 25:  1-7                                           Top 25:  1-6

Last 12:  7-5                                           Last 12:  6-6

As you can tell from the chart above, these two teams are pretty similar in their profiles. One is marginally better than the other, doing slightly better vs. top 100 teams. But neither team had a "bad" loss to a sub 150 team, both only won one game against the Top 25.

Team A is N.C. State, who finished with a Kenpom rating of 66th and Team B is Maryland, who was 43rd. N.C. State was inexcusably given an at large bid to he NCAA's, while Maryland was left out of the NIT. In no way, shape or norm am I arguing that Maryland should have been an NCAA at-large team. Rather, I'm pointing out that there is no way N.C. State should have been one and that the committee's selection process is by no means perfect. Maryland should have been an NIT team and N.C. State shouldn't have been an NCAA Tournament team.

Maryland's last year as a member of the ACC was certainly one most will want to forget. The biggest highlight was probably the win at home over regular season conference and ACC tournament champion Virginia. Aside from that, this team started off at a disadvantage when Seth Allen injured his foot and missed the beginning of the season. Seeing Allen back at full strength now makes you wonder what this team could have done with him in the lineup during the first part of the season.

This season, Maryland's average margin of defeat in their 15 loses was 7.9 points. They were often a mistake or two away from winning several of their games, including ones against some of the nation's best teams,  but seemed to consistently come up just short in the end. Sunday's exclusion from the NIT field was the final exclamation on a season that's best summed up by the phrase "missed it by that much."

Now the focus turns to the Big Ten, a top 10 recruiting class, and a team with another year's worth of experience. As of today, every significant contributor will be back next season as well, giving Maryland an experienced team that will be infused with some new talent that will hopefully allow them to take the next step under Turgeon.

Hopefully next season will be much better than this year's. But as a Maryland fan, you can't help but think in the back of your mind that something won't go according to plan. Much too often, we find ourselves playing the role of Charlie Brown trying to kick that football Lucy is holding and time and time again, just when we think we've going to kick it, we miss and find ourselves on our back, looking up at the sky and asking how we feel for the same trick yet again. Hopefully that ends next season because after being left out of the NIT, hope is all we've got right now.

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