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NCAA Notebook

Crimson earn first NIT invite

Associated Press / March 14, 2011

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Denied its first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 1946 after a last-second loss on Saturday to Princeton, Harvard will settle for its first appearance in the National Invitation Tournament.

The Crimson, already owning a program-best 23 wins, will travel to Oklahoma State for a 7:30 p.m. first-round game tomorrow to be televised by ESPN. The Cowboys are 19-13.

“We were hopeful to put ourselves in a position to get the bid outright with our league, and obviously that didn’t happen,’’ Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said after Saturday’s 63-62 loss to the Tigers for the Ivy League’s automatic bid. “It’s been very exciting for us to be in the position we’re in, to have these opportunities, to play in these kind of games at this time of the year.’’

Alabama and Virginia Tech were also relegated to the NIT. They were joined as No. 1 seeds by Colorado and Boston College. First-round NIT games are tomorrow and Wednesday, with the championship game March 31 at Madison Square Garden.

“I just feel like the way we’re playing right now, we’re one of the top 68 teams in the country,’’ Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. “I know that. But we’re not in the tournament. We have to deal with it and move on. We have to make a statement in the NIT.’’

Seth Greenberg and the Hokies have sweated out the selection process the past three years, missing out each time, and figured a win over Duke in late February might finally make the difference. It turned out they needed to beat the Blue Devils in the ACC tournament, too.

Only nine teams in the field have yet to reach 20 wins. Eight have at least 24, including Coastal Carolina from the Big South, St. Mary’s from the West Coast Conference, Missouri State from the Missouri Valley, and Fairfield from the Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference.

Pelphrey fired Arkansas fired coach John Pelphrey after four seasons and a 69-59 record with the Razorbacks, including an 18-13 mark this season . . . Kevin O’Neill has been reinstated as Southern California’s coach after being suspended during the Pac-10 tournament. O’Neill was suspended for USC’s semifinal loss to Arizona on Friday after a verbal altercation involving him, his wife, and a Wildcats booster at the team hotel a night earlier . . . Backup point guard Venoy Overton has been reinstated and will play when Washington meets Georgia in the NCAA Tournament Friday. Overton was suspended for the Pac-10 tournament after he was charged with providing alcohol to a minor . . . Maryland’s run of 17 straight postseason appearances is over. After being overlooked by the NCAA Tournament — which did not come as a shock — the Terrapins (19-14) were snubbed by the NIT . . . Quinnipiac was the only New England team selected for the 24-team CIT, and hosts Buffalo tonight . . . Rhode Island (19-13) will host Miami of Ohio (16-16) Wednesday in the 16-team CBI tourney.