|Virginia Tech, Arizona State get NIT top seeds as consolation prize|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 16 March 2008 15:50|
AP Photo NCCB103, NCCB109
By DAVE SKRETTA
AP Sports Writer
Virginia Tech and Arizona State are this year's Syracuse, and Hokies coach Seth Greenberg is suddenly sounding very much like Orange coach Jim Boeheim did last March.
The Hokies and Sun Devils were No. 1 seeds in the NIT, the traditional consolation prize for the best teams left out of the NCAA tournament. The other top seeds announced Sunday night were Ohio State and Syracuse, and all had their gripes with not playing elsewhere next week.
``All these schools had very good basketball seasons, played at a very high level,'' Greenberg said. ``I understand the committee has a tough decision. I have a tough time facing my kids. But it doesn't diminish what we accomplished this year.''
The Hokies (19-13) open Wednesday night against Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference regular-season champ Morgan State, which earned an automatic berth under a rule that rewards teams from smaller conferences who lost in their league tournaments.
Arizona State (19-12), which had perhaps the strongest resume of any team that didn't get picked for the NCAA tournament, gets Alabama State for its opener. The Buckeyes (19-13), who played in the national championship game a year ago, will play UNC-Asheville, and Syracuse (19-13) gets a first-round date with Robert Morris.
A year ago it was Syracuse that had 22 wins, finished sixth in the rugged Big East and got an NIT bid to show for it. Boeheim wasted no time in voicing his displeasure not only for the NCAA selection committee, but also the computer rankings used by the committee and that more at-large bids aren't available to teams from bigger conferences.
This time it was Greenberg with the familiar refrain of every coach whose team got left out.
``There's numerous schools for those 34 spots that are very, very equal,'' said Greenberg, whose Hokies finished fourth in the ACC, the toughest league according to the RPI, and played top-ranked North Carolina to the final second in the conference tournament.
``It's not an exact science and they have a very difficult decision to make.''
The Orange entered last week's Big East tournament teetering on the brink of an NCAA bid, but lost what amounted to an elimination game to Villanova, which earned the last NCAA tournament at-large berth.
``After last year, we probably had to win two or three games,'' Boeheim said after the 82-63 loss to Villanova. ``We had to keep winning and I don't think one win would have been enough. ... In my mind and their mind, if they're not in the NCAA tournament it's not a good year.''