Sunday , Mar , 13 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Notre Dame, Maryland headline NIT field

New York, NY (Sports Network) – Notre Dame and Maryland, two schools that had
hoped to be selected to the NCAA Tournament, will try and prove their merit in
the 68th National Invitation Tournament.

The 40-team field is highlighted by five teams from Conference USA and four
teams each from the Atlantic Coast Conference and Metro-Atlantic Conference.

Notre Dame (17-11) is somewhat of a surprise entry after the Irish went 9-7
in Big East play, which included wins over Boston College, Connecticut and
Villanova. Notre Dame, which will compete in the NIT for the second straight
season, will host Holy Cross (24-6) on Tuesday night.

Maryland (16-12) was also an NCAA Tournament snub despite winning only seven
games in ACC play. However, the Terps’ resume was aided by beating Duke twice
and having a tough non-conference schedule. The 2002 national champion
Terrapins, who will not participate in the NCAA Tournament for the first time
in 12 years, will host Oral Roberts (25-7) on Wednesday.

Clemson, Miami-Florida and Virginia Tech were the other ACC teams invited,
while Georgetown was the other school from the Big East. The Hoyas lost in the
2003 NIT championship game to St. John’s.

Miami-Ohio (19-10) and Buffalo (22-9), both from the MAC, thought they
deserved NCAA Tournament bids as well, but they will both have to show off
their worth in the NIT. The RedHawks will host TCU (16-13) on Wednesday, while
the Bulls will entertain Drexel (19-12) on March 16.

Other teams in the NIT field that thought they had a legitimate shot at making
the NCAA Tournament include DePaul, Indiana, Saint Joseph’s and Vanderbilt.
The Hawks reached the Elite Eight last year after losing just once prior to
the NCAA Tournament.

This is the fourth year of the expanded NIT field, as 40 teams will compete to
make the Final Four at Madison Square Garden. An opening round featuring 16
teams will be whittled to eight, who will then join the other 24 teams in the
first round.

The NIT gets underway on Monday when Marquette hosts Western Michigan in a
first-round game.

The tournament stays at campus sites until the scene shifts to New York where
the semifinals take place on March 29 and the final is slated for March 31.