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NIT might not be so bad

THE GARDEN - The NCAA is always the goal for elite programs like Syracuse, but the Orange might be better off in the NIT.

Even if they advanced to the NCAAs they weren't going to get by the first weekend. They would have landed a No. 8 or No. 9 seed at best which means if they would have run into a No. 1 seed like North Carolina or Memphis in the second round. In the NIT, the Orange are at least equipped for a longer run, perhaps even a return to the Garden. Jim Boeheim gets more time to mold his young team, which returns everyone next season, and adds Eric Devendorf and Andy Rautins back from knee injuries and brings in a pair of top 100 players in Mookie Jones from Peekskill and Kris Joseph from Hyattsville, Md.

Next year, Syracuse will be one of the top teams in the Big East and one of the top 20 programs in the country. In the meantime, they can use the NIT to further their development.

"I've talked to them a little bit in the locker room today about the opportunity that we'll have to play in a tournament, play in the NIT, whatever it is, that can be good for us," Boeheim said.

Much better than a short trip to the NCAA.

---Rodney McKissic

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