At this point, more than half of the games of the NIT have been played (as hard as that seems to believe), and the 32 teams that were invited to this tournament have been but to 16 teams that will be playing at campus sites for two more games before going to Las Vegas to sort out the final four and provide a championship. In the 16 games, we saw 11 of the higher-seeded teams prevail, so that two #1 teams, 3 #2 teams, 4 #3 teams, and two #4 teams, along with 2 #5 teams, 1 #7 team, and 2 #8 teams, have moved on to the next round.
One of the more telling results of the first round of the NIT was when one Morehead State, a fifteen and a half point underdog, went to Clemson and ended up defeating them 68-64 in a tight and close game in which Morehead State had no social media presence in making updates despite the fact that their team was competitive throughout and ended up prevailing. When only half of the #1 seeds end up winning their opening NIT games, one has to question the motivation that these teams that just miss the NCAA Tournament has in comparison to those who are just happy to be there and glad that they have somewhere to play after losing the chance to be the only team in their conference to play in that same tournament. While in general we expect, and see, the more talented teams from larger conferences prevailing for the most part, there are some times that the difference in motivation can mean a lot. Clemson was bragging about one of their star player putting himself in the draft but not completely cutting his ties with the NCAA, allowing himself to come back if he does not get drafted while also testing the waters. Not winning a single postseason game would appear to lower the interest that an NBA team would have for someone, I would think, in most cases.
In looking at the matchups for the second round, I have to admit that most of these matchups do not seem very impressive to me, aside from Oregon versus UCF and Vanderbilt Michigan at opposite sides of the bracket. Perhaps one could be enthusiastic about Colorado playing Utah Valley if I knew more about Utah Valley as a team. Still, quite a lot of the first round games were close, which indicates that the combination of talent differences throughout the teams and motivation to play in the postseason balances out pretty close to equal in most cases. And that makes for enjoyable basketball even when it involves more obscure programs than one is used to rooting for this time of year for most casual college basketball fans.