CLEMSON -- The Tigers were denied their 12th appearance in the NIT when they were not selected for the 40-team field despite a winning record at 15-13.
"We are very disappointed that we were not selected for the
NIT. I thought our players deserved an invitation," said Clemson head coach Larry Shyatt. "I am
disappointed for the entire team, but especially for the seniors.
"I am surprised. It is very rare for an ACC team with a .500 or
better record not to be invited since the NIT went to 32 teams in
Clemson now joins the 1980-81 North Carolina State basketball team (14-13) as the only teams with a better than .500 record to be left out of postseason NIT play since its expansion in 1980.
Coming into this season only three teams with a .500 record or better have been left out since 1980 - North Carolina State (14-13) in 1980-81, Clemson (14-14) in 1983-84 and Clemson (14-14) again in 1991-92. Georgia Tech finished the 1994-95 season with an 18-12 record but turned down the NIT invitation.
Hurting the Tigers was their low RPI ranking of 107. Two other ACC teams who received invitations, Georgia Tech (14-14) and Virginia (15-15), finished the season at .500 but had RPI rankings of 76 and 80 respectively.
Clemson's strength of schedule was ranked at 108 while Georgia Tech and Virginia were at 40 and 37. The Tigers did, however, sweep Virginia in conference play this year.
Clemson is 10-11 over the years in NIT appearances. That includes a
4-1 record in the 1999 event, Clemson's last trip to the NIT. The
Tigers reached the Championship Game in 1999, Larry Shyatt's rookie
year as Clemson coach.
A list of teams for the the 2003 National
Invitation Tournament, which begins on Monday, March 17
at campus sites:
San Diego St.