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Hoyas decline bid as NIT announces field

Published March 12, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) - The Atlantic 10, which had only Xavier selected for the NCAA tournament, had five teams picked Sunday night for the NIT's expanded 40-team field.

Paul Wong
Georgetown players celebrate their win over Providence in the first round of the Big East Tournament, but their season is over - by choice. AP PHOTO

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One name missing from the list was Georgetown, which lost in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament and finished 19-11.

Hoyas coach Craig Esherick said Sunday night he just couldn't accept the invitation because his team was going to be sent on the road and he didn't want his players missing classes.

"We wanted to play but didn't want to play at all costs. We're in school now," he said. "Last year we spent two weeks out West and didn't want to do it again."

The Hoyas were in the West Region of the NCAA Tournament last season, playing two games in Boise, Idaho, before losing to Maryland in the regional semifinal in Anaheim, Calif.

"We couldn't use our home court, the MCI Center, because it's the site of the NCAA Tournament's first two rounds this week," Esherick said. "It got to the point that since we couldn't have a home game we wanted to be playing closer to home to not miss class. After a while I said 'Look, maybe we're better off not doing it.'"

NIT executive director Jack Powers confirmed travel was the reason.

"They just could not work out travel arrangements," he said Sunday.

The only other team to ever turn down an NIT bid was Louisville in 1987, when the Cardinals were 18-14 a year after winning the national championship.

Richmond, Saint Joseph's, St. Bonaventure, Temple and Dayton were selected for the NIT, which gets under way Tuesday night with five games. Through the first four rounds, all games are played at campus sites.

The semifinals and championship game are at New York's Madison Square Garden on March 26 and 28.

Conference USA was next with four teams - South Florida, Louisville, Memphis and Houston - while the Big East, Mountain West and Southeastern Conference each had three.

The Ivy League had two teams selected, Princeton and Yale.

The addition of eight teams to the field means eight opening-round games, with the winners moving into the first round.

The first-round games to be played Tuesday have Arizona State at UNLV and Princeton at Louisville.

"If you make it there, Madison Square Garden is probably the most exciting place to play in college basketball," said first-year Louisville coach Rick Pitino, who coached the NBA's New York Knicks in that building. "It would be quite an experience for us if we could get there."

It's tourney time!

Think you're better than the NIT? Well that is the best you are going to get until Thursday. Watch NCAA Tournament rejects face off to see who deserves to be No. 66. Also, the play-in game for the NCAA Tournament is tonight.

Tonight

NCAA Tournament

Alcorn State vs. Siena, 7 p.m., ESPN

National Invitational Tournament

Princeton at Louisville, 9 p.m., ESPN

Arizona State at UNLV, 11 p.m., ESPN2

Tomorrow

National Invitational Tournament

South Carolina at Virginia, 7:30 p.m., ESPN2

Louisiana State at Iowa, 9:30 p.m., ESPN2

Temple at Fresno State, 12 a.m., ESPN


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