Sunday , Mar , 12 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Michigan, Maryland lead NIT field

New York, NY (Sports Network) – Louisville, Cincinnati, Michigan and
Maryland are the number-one seeds for the 68th annual National Invitational
Tournament.

Also among the 40 teams selected were six that won regular-season
championships but lost in their conference tournaments, and weren’t picked for
the NCAA tournament.

Maryland (19-12), which was defeated in the quarterfinals of the ACC
tournament by Boston College, will either play MAC regular-season champ
Manhattan or Northeast Conference winner Fairleigh Dickinson on Tuesday.

Michigan (18-10), which was handed a defeat in the first round of the Big Ten
tournament to Minnesota, will face the opening-round winner of the
UTEP/Lipscomb matchup.

Louisville (18-12) will play in the first round Friday against the winner of
Tuesday’s opening game between Northern Arizona and Delaware State. The
Lumberjacks (21-10) were the regular-season champions in the Big Sky
conference and the Hornets (20-13) were the Mid-Eastern Athletic champion, but
both lost in their conference tournaments.

Cincinnati (19-12), which lost in the first round of the Big East tournament
to Syracuse, will play either opening round opponents Georgia Southern or
Charlotte.

The other regular-season conference champion in the NIT is Western Kentucky
(23-7) of the Sun Belt, which will play South Carolina (18-14) on Friday.

The opening round of eight games will begin at campus sites Tuesday.

Temple will host Akron with the winner facing Creighton (19-9); Rutgers will
face Penn State at Happy Valley and the victor next plays St. Joseph’s
(18-13); Virginia travels to Stanford and the winner will square off against
Missouri State (20-8); and Miami-Ohio will host Butler and the winner will
move on to face Florida State (19-9).

This is the fifth 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.

Also, this is the first tournament since NCAA bought the rights to the NIT in
August. The purchase was part of a settlement ending a four-year legal battle.
Among the changes in the selection criteria, all Division I conference
regular-season champions who did not make the NCAA’s field of 65 were
guaranteed NIT bids.

The tournament stays at campus sites until the scene shifts to New York,
where the semifinals take place on March 28 and the championship game is
slated for March 30.