NITology: March 2, 2023

A few years ago there was a website that appears to have gone defunct that did what no one at the time (or really, since then) has been willing to do, and that is examine the teams that are competing for the second-most prestigious college basketball tournament. There are many bracketologists who wish to predict the teams that are looking to compete in the NCAA tournament and be one of 68 teams that has at least the possibility of taking home a national championship. But it has always been more rare to ponder the best of the teams that were not quite able to make the cut and are in the running instead of the lesser alternative that is still worth pursuing for any school, and that is the National Invitation Tournament, which was actually around before the NCAA tournament started. It is not my purpose at this time to discuss the history of the NIT, itself a worthy competition, but rather to examine the teams most likely to find themselves there as conference tournaments work their way over the next week and a half or so before we reach Selection Sunday.

As is the case with the NCAA tournament, there are two different groups of teams that make it to the NIT. The better seeds are those who are at-large teams that are invited to fill the available slots who were not already invited to the NCAA tournament. And though teams are disappointed to make the NIT because those teams that are invited to the 32-team tournament are usually teams that harbored some sort of ambition to play in the NCAA tourney, this is considered widely to be an acceptable alternative, something that is not always the case for the CBI or CIT, the other consolation tournaments that exist for college basketball, and for which a bracketology is complicated by the fact that a great many teams reject bids for those tournaments because they are not considered necessarily to be worthwhile enough to compete in for all schools. The second group of schools that receive the worst seeds are those teams that won regular season conference championships in one-bid leagues, and thus receive an automatic bid to the NIT as their consolation for losing in the conference tourneys that are going on right now.

As of yet, there are no #1 seeds for conference tourneys that have fallen, though it is extremely unlikely that this will continue, as we have already seen some regular season champions face some tough games against lower-seeded opposition and it is a matter of time before one of them loses a game. Let us therefore look at those teams which are considered to be either on the lower edge of the bubble for the NCAA tournament, and thus in the running for one of the top seeds in the NIT, or those who are just off the bubble and considered to be locks for the NIT. Some of the teams considered to be in the running for the top few seeds of the NIT include: Clemson, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Penn State, Utah State, and Vanderbilt. Some of these teams may end up making the NCAA tournament while some of the teams on the bubble considered right now to be above them like Wisconsin, USC, Iowa State, Rutgers, Michigan, Auburn, Boise State, Pittsburgh, or Arizona State may fail to reach the NCAA tournament and snag one of those less precious but still not unacceptable NIT spots. The rest of the spots are likely to be taken by teams like Florida or Texas Tech, which barely muster .500 records or thereabouts in good leagues with strong strength of schedules, but that remains to be seen.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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