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THE TOURNAMENT PERSPECTIVE

THE TOURNAMENT PERSPECTIVE

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NEW YORK -- It’s all a matter of perspective. In an arena in Memphis, people shout and sing because their team has won a trip to the NIT championship in Madison Square Garden. While in another place, and just a few months previously, the fans of the University of Maryland vents its frustration with derisive chants directed at the home team: “N-I-T! N-I-T!” Today, Maryland is celebrating a fabulous season in Minneapolis in the NCAA Final Four. They went on a winning streak after that homecourt loss to Florida State and never even thought of the National Invitation Tournament. John Calipari and his team are also celebrating. A trip to New York city is a reward for winning 16 of its last 23 games. “This team has had a fabulous season,” Calipari said after the Tigers lost to Tulsa in a semi-final game Tuesday night. It’s all a matter of perspective. Next year, Calipari and the followers of the University of Memphis will be disappointed if they do not get invited to the NCAA. Two years from now, following Calipari’s third season at the school, Tiger fans will be acting like the Maryland fans when they thought the Terps were going to the “Nobody’s Interested Tournament.” When you come to the NIT championship you are guaranteed two games. If you win, you play in the championship game on Thursday night. If you lose, you still play on Thursday night, but, instead of being the marquee game, you are the opening act. Consolation games are no fun. The NCAA did away with its runner-up game years ago. Calipari, who brought one of his early UMass teams to New York, played in the consolation game, after losing a two-point heartbreaker to Stanford. UMass lost on Thursday night in what Calipari said was the hardest game he had ever had to coach. You never know about consolation games. Memphis (20-15) meets Detroit Mercy (25-11) at 6:30.

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