NEW YORK – Greensboro is getting its shot at Jim Boeheim.
Four days after the Hall of Fame coach from Syracuse angered an entire city by saying there was “no value” in the Atlantic Coast Conference holding its postseason tournament in Greensboro, North Carolina, the Orange were matched up Sunday night against UNC Greensboro in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament.
Among the final few teams left out of the NCAA Tournament, top-seeded Syracuse (18-14) will host the eighth-seeded Spartans (25-9) at the Carrier Dome on Tuesday night.
Reggie Minton, chair of the selection committee, insisted the NIT did not pair up the teams on purpose when the bracket was set.
“We didn’t even have that in our minds,” Minton said in an interview with ESPN during the tournament selection show. “We were matching teams against teams, not story lines against any other story lines, and it’s the way it played out.”
Minton said he was aware of Boeheim’s comment last week at the ACC Tournament in Brooklyn, but “hadn’t thought of it since that time.”
Regardless, the city of Greensboro quickly chimed in on its Twitter account: “Kudos (hashtag) NIT on having a sense of humor. Well played!”
And a church organization in Greensboro is selling shirts that read, “Greensboro vs. Boeheim.”
Syracuse, a longtime national power, was disappointed to miss out on the NCAAs this season after beating three top-10 teams in Florida State, Virginia and Duke.
Last year, the Orange got in at 19-13 with a questionable resume and advanced all the way to the Final Four as a No. 10 seed. But if they’re going to make another deep run this March, it will come against lesser competition in the second-tier tournament.
“When you’re on the bubble you can miss, for whatever reason,” Boeheim said. “It’s heartbreaking because everything today is about the NCAA Tournament. It’s not just us. There’s 20 broken-hearted teams out there that wish they had done one thing better.”
The bottom of Syracuse’s bracket includes two other former powers: Indiana is the No. 3 seed and will face sixth-seeded Georgia Tech in the opening round.
California, Iowa and Illinois State are the other No. 1 seeds in the 32-team field. Play begins Tuesday night, mostly on campus sites, and concludes with the semifinals and championship game at Madison Square Garden in late March.
“I thought we would just sneak into the (NCAA) Tournament, but we have to accept it and move on,” Boeheim said. “We just have to get ready and try to play the best we can in the NIT.”
Minton said there were no schools that turned down an invite.
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