Boeheim wont go to Greensboro, so NIT sends Greensboro to him

In a juicy twist to the war of words that has been going on since the curmudgeonly Syracuse basketball coach disparaged North Carolinas third-largest city last week, the Orange has been paired against UNC Greensboro in the tournaments opening round

Brad Penner—USA Today Sports
Syracuse Orange head coach Jim Boeheim reacts as he coaches against the Miami Hurricanes during the second half of an ACC Conference Tournament game at Barclays Center.

Jim Boeheim has made it clear that he doesn’t want to go to Greensboro. So with an assist from the NIT selection committee, a little piece of Greensboro is being brought to him. In a juicy twist to the war of words that has been going on since the curmudgeonly Syracuse basketball coach disparaged North Carolina’s third-largest city in postgame remarks at the ACC tournament in Brooklyn last week, the Orange has been paired against UNC Greensboro in the opening round of college basketball’s second-most important postseason tournament. The game will be played at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse on Tuesday. In announcing the intriguing matchup, NIT selection committee chairman Reggie Minton insisted that while he was aware of Boeheim’s comments, the controversy he stirred up had nothing to do with the teams being matched against one another. “We didn’t even have that in our minds,” Minton during the selection show on ESPN. “We were matching teams against teams, not storylines against any other storylines, and it’s the way it played out.” Syracuse, as one of the first four teams out, is the No. 1 seed in the top left quarter of the 32-team NIT bracket. UNCG, which lost in the Southern Conference tournament final after winning the league’s regular season title, is the No. 8 seed. Despite Minton’s assertion, Spartans coach Wes Miller believes that the decision to send his team to Syracuse was more than just coincidence. “What the NIT committee probably wanted here was to create this kind of dialogue,” Miller, a former UNC player, told the Greensboro News & Record. “It’s in the back of our minds, but we’re going to stay focused. We do feel like we represent the city of Greensboro every time we take the floor and that won’t change because we’re playing Syracuse.” Under normal circumstances, a game between UNCG (25-9) and Syracuse (18-14) would be just another generic first round postseason matchup. But Boeheim changed that last Wednesday when he was asked what he thought of the ACC tournament being played in New York for the first time. Boeheim, still salty from his team’s opening round 62-57 loss to Miami, turned his answer into a rant on one of his favorite subjects — his dislike of Greensboro as a tournament site. “I just think New York City’s a great venue for our tournament,” the Hall of Fame coach said. “I think the big cities are where it should be played. I think it should be played here, Washington, Atlanta. That’s where the tournament should be played. I’m not going to be around that much longer to care about it, but I think that’s where the value is. “I think there’s a huge value in playing the tournament in those places. There’s no value in playing in Greensboro. None. It’s there because the league’s been there and the office is there and they have a 150 people that the ACC needs. That’s why it’s there. It should not be there.” Although he sees no value in playing the ACC tournament in Greensboro, the value in playing UNCG is the opportunity to extend his team’s season. It’s that incentive, he said, that will motivate his team to play its best against the Spartans despite the disappointment of missing out on the NCAA tournament. And yet his comments about Greensboro is a subject he won’t be able to escape because of the focus they helped put on this game. Though it might help soften the relationship if Miller brought along some BBQ from Stamey’s as a peace offering. “When you get ready to play a game, as a competitor, you want to go out and win the game,” Boeheim said at a press conference Sunday. “Our players all want to win. They’re disappointed. Everybody’s disappointed. But we have a game and you want to get ready and you want to go out and play. And play well.”