Hokies Embrace the NIT

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Sometime Tuesday afternoon, I came to an
interesting revelation: the last time the Hokies played postseason basketball,
TechSideline.com – actually, HokieCentral.com, which was the site’s first name
– wasn’t even in existence. Given that HC/TSL turned nine years old four days
ago … that’s a looong time to go without playing postseason basketball. So the
Hokies will take this NIT gig and like it, thank you very much.

Zabian Dowdell and his
teammates got off to a slow
start, then raced away from the Temple Owls.

The NIT has some tough nicknames – Nobody’s
Invited Tournament, Nobody’s Interested Tournament, etc. – but at its core, it
is filled with 40 teams that usually fall into one of two categories: teams that
are very disappointed about not making the Big Dance and aren’t very happy about
being relegated to the NIT; and teams that are on the rise and see the NIT as a
chance to keep building their program and making a name for themselves.

Count the Hokies in category #2, much the same as
they were in 1995, when a Tech team that hadn’t seen postseason play since 1986
roared to the NIT championship, laying the foundation for a 1995-96 team that
spent the entire year in the rankings and advanced to the second round of the
NCAA tournament.

It’s easy for the Hokies to embrace the NIT,
because for the last eight years, they’ve had nothing. It reminds me of the old
Eddie Murphy comedy routine, where the starving man gets a single saltine
cracker, gobbles it down voraciously, licks his fingers, and loudly proclaims,
"THAT’S THE BEST CRACKER I’VE EVER HAD!!" We’d all rather eat the
filet mignon of the NCAA tourney, but when you’ve gone without for a long time,
that NIT saltine tastes killer.

In the five NIT games played so far,