North Carolina's season will continue. So will N.C. State's.
Despite finishing 16-16, the reigning national champion Tar Heels earned a surprisingly high No. 4 seed in the National Invitation Tournament - and will host a game against William & Mary at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday. N.C. State earned a No. 6 seed, and will play at South Florida at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Both teams are in the same quadrant of the bracket, meaning if they each win two games, they would match up in the quarterfinals for the right to advance to the final four at Madison Square Garden.
Connecticut (17-15) is also in the NIT, a year after joining North Carolina in the NCAA Final Four. The Huskies will enter against Northeastern (20-12) after four straight losses, including a 73-51 rout by St. John's in the Big East tournament.
"With a quick glance at the bracket, it looks like the field is remarkably tough," UConn coach Jim Calhoun said. "There are plenty of teams that were in position to make the NCAA tournament, and I think that with all of the parity in the field, it will be very difficult to win and advance."
The No. 1 seeds are Illinois, Arizona State, Virginia Tech and Mississippi State, all teams that spent Sunday hoping for NCAA tournament bids.
North Carolina will play its opening game at Carmichael Arena because of renovations to the Smith Center offices. Entering the selection show, earning a high enough seed to host a game seemed like a stretch, considering the Tar Heels' record, 32-point loss to Duke in the regular-season finale, and first-round exit from the ACC tournament.
But C.M. Newton, chair of the selection committee, insisted Sunday night the decision to invite the Tar Heels, and give them a home game in the 32-team field, had nothing to do with potential ticket sales or the fact that they are a "name" program.
"Their schedule was the determining factor," Newton said, referring to nonconference games that included Syracuse, Michigan State, Texas and Kentucky. "They played such a demanding schedule ... the thinking was that some of the teams that hadn't played such a demanding schedule wouldn't have had as good a record as North Carolina had, had they played that schedule."
This will be North Carolina's sixth NIT appearance, and the first since 2003. Playing William & Mary will mean matching up with a couple of former Tar Heels; the Tribe (22-10) is coached by Tony Shaver, who played guard at North Carolina in 1972-75. Assistant coach Jonathan Holmes also played four seasons at North Carolina, graduating in 2003.
If North Carolina wins, it would likely play at No. 1 seed Mississippi State, which faces Jackson State in its opening game.
"Of course we would have liked to have played better this year and be in the NCAA field, but we did not," Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said. "But we are happy to still be playing basketball and I hope we will play well in the NIT."
N.C. State (19-15) won three of its last four regular-season games - then two more in the ACC tournament, before falling to Georgia Tech in the semi-finals.
"They played their way, frankly, from a team we didn't have on our radar to a team that came into our tournament by the way they played - particularly in the ACC tournament, and the way they played late in the year," Newton said.
This will mark N.C. State's 11th NIT appearance. It last played in the NIT in 2007, winning against Drexel and Marist before losing 71-66 to West Virginia.
"We are very excited to keep our season going," Wolfpack coach Sidney Lowe said in a prepared statement. "This is a great reward for our team for their play at the end of the season."
If the Wolfpack beats South Florida (20-12), it will play either Alabama-Birmingham or Coastal Carolina in the second round.
The Charlotte 49ers were considered but were not invited to the tournament.
"Charlotte was very much in our thought process; they were one of our teams that was discussed and voted on several times," Newton said. "And there were several teams like them that didn't get in our tournament.
"I think in a normal year, Charlotte would have gotten in. But we had eight automatic qualifiers this year, which means we only had room for 24 at-larges. ... It's the most (automatic qualifiers) we've ever had, the closest prior to that, I think, was six."
Virginia Tech watched its NCAA bubble burst for the third straight year, and will open the NIT against Quinnipiac. The Hokies (23-8) had a better record than Wake Forest, which made the NCAA tournament, and beat the Deacons in their only meeting in February.
"I'm very proud of my team. We've had a great run," said Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg, who can point toward a weak schedule and poor RPI for the NCAA snub. "It will be a tough job to get my guys up and ready to play, but that's my job."
The Hokies would meet Connecticut in the second round if both teams win their openers.
National Invitation Tournament
Northeastern (20-12) at Connecticut (17-15), 7 p.m.
N.C. State (19-15) at South Florida (20-12), 8 p.m.
Coastal Carolina (28-6) at UAB (23-8), 8 p.m.
Texas Tech (17-15) at Seton Hall (19-12), 9 p.m.
William & Mary (22-10) at North Carolina (16-16), 9:30 p.m.
Jackson State (19-12) at Mississippi State (23-11), 10 p.m.
Jacksonville (19-12) at Arizona State (22-10), 11 p.m.
Wednesday, March 17
Tulsa (23-11) at Kent State (23-9), 7
Illinois State (22-10) at Dayton (20-12), 7 p.m.
Weber State (20-10) at Cincinnati (18-15), 7 p.m.
Quinnipiac (23-9) at Virginia Tech (23-8), 7 p.m.
Northwestern (20-13) at Rhode Island (23-9), 7 p.m.
Troy (20-12) at Mississippi (21-10), 8
Nevada (20-12) at Wichita State (25-9), 8:05 p.m.
Illinois (19-14) at Stony Brook (22-9), 9
St. John's (17-15) at Memphis (23-9), 9
Illinois-Stony Brook winner vs. Tulsa-Kent State winner, TBA
Illinois State-Dayton winner vs. Weber State-Cincinnati winner,
Jacksonville-Arizona State winner vs. Texas Tech-Seton Hall
St. John's-Memphis winner vs. Troy-Mississippi winner, TBA
Quinnipiac-Virginia Tech winner vs. Northeastern-Connecticut
Nevada-Wichita State winner vs. Northwestern-Rhode Island
Jackson State-Mississippi State winner vs. William & Mary-North
Carolina winner, TBA
N.C. State-South Florida winner vs. Coastal Carolina-UAB winner,
Illinois-Stony Brook-Tulsa-Kent State winner vs. Illinois
State-Dayton-Weber State-Cincinnati winner, TBA
Jacksonville-Arizona State-Texas Tech-Seton Hall winner vs. St.
John's-Memphis-Troy-Mississippi winner, TBA
Quinnipiac-Virginia Tech-Northeastern-Connecticut winner vs.
Nevada-Wichita State-Northwestern-Rhode Island winner, TBA
Jackson State-Mississippi State-William & Mary-North Carolina
winner, vs. N.C. State-South Florida-Coastal Carolina-UAB winner,
Tuesday, March 30
At Madison Square Garden
First Game, 7 p.m.
Second Game, 9:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 1
Semifinal winners, 7 p.m. AP