Nitology: March 12, 2023

We should have a good idea tonight (how late, it is not clear, depending on when it shows on ESNU) what the NIT bids for this year are. There were eleven teams who clinched an automatic bid to the NIT based on winning their regular season conference but losing in the conference tournament, and none of those teams was chosen as an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament, so we have at least eleven teams who will be making the NIT, probably mostly in the 6-8 seeds:

Eastern WashingtonBig Sky22–102nd2003
UC IrvineBig West23–117th2017
Youngstown StateHorizon24–91stNever
YaleIvy League21–82nd2002
Morehead StateOVC21–111stNever
Southern MissSun Belt25–711th2014
Alcorn StateSWAC18–134th2022
Utah ValleyWAC25–82nd2014
2023 NIT Automatic Bids, per wikipedia

What teams are likely to take the remaining 21 spots?

Rutgers, Oklahoma State, Vanderbilt, and North Carolina have a good shot at being 1 seeds in the NIT, as they were all considered to be at or close to the first four teams out. Michigan, Wisconsin, Oregon, and Clemson would appear to be next after that as being likely 2 seeds in the NIT as all were also considered to be in consideration for at-large spots and falling short. Besides these obvious nineteen selections, 13 other teams will also fill up the NIT, mostly from teams in high major conferences with above .500 records or teams from conferences like the Atlantic 10, Big East, WCC, and American conferences that are viewed as just below the high-majors. Among the choices from these conferences, the following are possible: American (Tulane, Cincinnati), Atlantic 10 (Fordham, Dayton, St. Louis, George Mason, Duquesne), ACC (Wake Forest, Syracuse, Virginia Tech), Big 12 (Texas Tech), Big East (Villanova, Seton Hall, St. Johns), Big 10 (Nebraska), Mountain West (San Jose State, New Mexico, UNLV), Pac-12 (Washington State, Utah, Washington, Colorado), SEC (Florida, Georgia), WCC (Santa Clara). Besides choosing from among these teams, it seems unlikely that too many other teams would have a chance: perhaps Marshall from the Sun Belt, Sam Houston State from the WAC, or North Texas or UAB from Conference USA, but that’s about it.

From these teams we can pick the bubble teams of the NIT as well as the CBI, the next level down, which itself has already picked six teams out of its sixteen and will likely take some of the teams that accept an invitation who don’t get a spot in the NIT among the teams listed above. Some of the teams that might be in consideration for these various tournaments may decide it is simply not worth it to play for a second or third tier postseason tournament (or, in the case of the The Basketball Classic, a fourth-tier tournament that has no television deal, only a streaming one, and even lacks its own wikipedia page at present). Those dominoes, though, will likely fall through the night as phone calls are furiously made to fill tournaments with willing teams.

Update: As it happens, these were not terrible predictions. Only two teams chosen were not among the teams I considered to be likely to be invited, Liberty, which tied for first place in the Atlantic Sun conference and appears to have been treated almost like an automatic bid for doing so, and UCF, which was further down the American than I thought likely to be invited. Two teams that I mentioned, North Carolina and Dayton, ended up declining a spot in the NIT. Likewise, two of the mid-major teams listed here as being possible for the NIT ended up being invited to the CBI, so all in all this was a pretty successful prediction.

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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