NIT Bracketology: Championship Week

NOTE: NIT Bracketology is updated daily now. You can find the latest here.

Championship fortnight is here! The best four weekends of the college basketball season are upon us. The next two weeks will be pressure packed with teams trying to get into the postseason and then we’ll get two excellent weekends of action.

Which teams are in the best position as we head into the final week of the regular season (or the postseason)? Let’s take a look at the NIT bracket.

First of all, my last six into the NCAA tournament: Kentucky, St. Mary’s, Virginia, Temple, La Salle, Tennessee

My first four out the NIT: Purdue, Dayton, New Mexico St., Utah St.

If you want to see the potential auto-bids for the NIT I’m tracking all postseason bids here.

This week’s bracket. It includes all games through Sunday, March 3. Note: Unlike past brackets this time I have attempted to create logical geographical match ups for the lower seeds if possible. So we’re doing some real bracketing here.

1. Arizona St.
8. Northwestern
4. Alabama
5. Northern Iowa
3. Charlotte
6. LSU
2. Iowa St.
7. Florida St.

1. Massachusetts
8. Detroit
4. Saint Joseph’s
5. Southern Miss
3. Baylor
6. Texas A&M
2. Iowa
7. Xavier

1. Arkansas
8. Southern Cal
4. Wyoming
5. Brigham Young
3. Providence
6. Indiana St.
2. Air Force
7. Washington

1. Maryland
8. Ohio
4. Ole Miss
5. Denver
3. St. John’s
6. Richmond
2. Stanford
7. Georgia Tech

Northwestern and Southern Cal are by far the two most tenuous teams in this bracket. The toughest thing with teams like Ohio and Detroit is that neither has had many opportunities to get good wins. KenPom, while not necessarily part of the evaluative process, suggests that both Detroit and Ohio can hang with NIT quality teams. (It also thinks I’m really underrating Illinois St. and North Dakota St. the two best mid-majors not mentioned here or in the NCAA bracket.) I’d like to see both teams included in the bracket if they don’t win the Horizon League or MAC automatic bids to the NCAAs, but it isn’t a given.

The top of this is an absolute mess. I don’t think Tennessee deserves to be in the NCAA tournament right now, but their resume is less ugly than their fellow contenders. We’ll see what happens down the stretch.

28 thoughts on “NIT Bracketology: Championship Week

  1. DaytonFlyer

    Dayton just waxed Charlotte and beat Richmond at home. The return of a third healthy guard after a 6 game absence makes this a dangerous team again.

  2. Kevin

    Wyoming seeded ahead of BYU doesn’t seem right. 16 d1 wins vs. 20. BYU higher in the rpi and way higher in Sagarin. BYU 5-8 vs rpi top 100 and Wyoming 3-10. Wyoming plays in a tougher league but is 4-11 in the MWC and will get the 7th seed in the MWC tournament. I would think they’d be in danger of not making the NIT this year, but then the NIT committee is much less predictable than the NCAA committee is.

    1. jtemplon Post author

      I actually thought about switching those two teams. The difference to me comes from where those 5 and 3 come from. BYU hasn’t beaten a team better than 90th in RPI, while Wyoming has wins over Colorado and San Diego State. Yes, they’re 3-10 against the Top 100 in RPI, but it’s because they’re 2-8 against the Top 50. Wyoming will certainly be in the NIT, it’s just a matter of where. The MWC should have 7 postseason teams between the NCAAs and NIT.

  3. Jarred

    What does Arkansas have to do to maintain a 1 seed. They could make it to New Yourk as long as they can host 3 games at Bud Walton Arena..

    1. jtemplon Post author

      Keep winning. A win at Missouri would be humongous in terms of staying near the very top of the bracket. Beating Texas A&M is probably a must. Then it’d come down to the draw in the SEC Tournament. Arkansas is in a relatively good position to stay near the top of the bracket. I’d expect them to have at least two home games.

  4. Jarred

    Im guessing Arkansas State could not play its way in unless it wins out and loses in a close game to Middle Tenn St in the Sun Belt Championship? Would love a 1 vs 8 matchup with the Red Wolves at BUD WALTON…

    1. jtemplon Post author

      Well ultimately the 7/8 seed lines are going to be taken by automatic bids of #1 seeds that fall in their conference tournaments. We average between 8-10 of those each season.

  5. Jared

    Better be on the lookout for Iowa They lost their starting point guard for the season but they are an dangerous team

    1. Iowa Pack Fan

      Actually, Gesell is only out until the B1G Tourney start.. but YEAH.. lok out for “Them Hawkeyes”

  6. Eric

    No mention of University of Evansville? Beat Northern Iowa twice, Wichita St twice and finished ahead of Indiana St in conference after soundly beating them on sat.

    1. jtemplon Post author

      They’re in the guys sitting just off the bubble. They’re pretty hot right now and those two wins over Wichita St. look really good. Seven losses to teams outside of the Top 100 in RPI is tough to stomach, but it’s basically the cost of doing business in the Missouri Valley right now. They’re certainly being considered and are right around the cut line. A couple wins in the MVC tournament might push them in depending on the opponent.

  7. Lane

    If Alabama is considered one of the first four out of the NCAA Tourney, why only a 4 seed in the NIT? What do they have to do for a No. 1 Seed? There’s a good chance that if they beat Ole Miss tonight, Georgia at home, and and win a game in the SEC Tourney, they find themselves all but on the right side of the NCAA bubble, but they are a 4 seed here?

    1. jtemplon Post author

      Not sure who has them in the Last 4 out, but I think they’re further away than that. The Crimson Tide’s best win RPI speaking is over Kentucky. Beating Ole Miss would certainly help. I just felt when you sat down and compared resumes that the others were stronger. Alabama dropped the most of any team during the seeding process because other teams just had better wins or no ugly losses (at Auburn).

      1. Lane

        Lunardi has had Bama in his first four out all week, so I don’t see how they could be less than an NIT two seed if they are a win or two away from the NCAA.

        Please explain.

  8. Brian

    Purdue has 7 wins in the Big Ten. Northwestern has 4. How is Northwestern in over Purdue? NW had a cupcake pre season so the overall record looks a lot better. Big Ten is the real deal, wins are tough to come by.

    1. jtemplon Post author

      I was actually just addressing this one on Twitter. Purdue will probably be added back into the bracket in tomorrow morning’s update, though anyone that close to the bubble really isn’t going to make it once the auto-bids start falling. Boilermakers can make life easier for themselves with wins over Michigan / Minnesota down the stretch.

    2. Brian

      Purdue is 73rd in KenPom, #1 seed Arkansas is 77th, #1 seed UMass 80th, #2 Air Force 92. Many more examples. Its crazy that projections go by merely overall record. KenPom is the most accurate gauge of a team by far. If Purdue is ranked right along with the #1 and #2 seeds, its absurd to think they are not good enough to be in the field at all.

      1. jtemplon Post author

        KenPom doesn’t mean anything for selection or seeding. These projections most definitely do not go by overall record. They are carefully taking into account an entire resume of a team looking at good wins, bad losses, schedule strength, etc. KenPom is used as a last result tie-breaker when you have to split the difference between two very close teams. Purdue’s overall record is bad because of a lot of Top 50/100 losses, sure, but it also has a few bad losses like Eastern Michigan and Oregon State.

  9. Brian

    Sorry jtemplon, didn’t see your post before I replied to my own. I still don’t think they should be a bubble team. Beating a top 5 team in the nation is a lot to ask for, though a win against Minnesota would be great. Tough playing in a conference where the 2 of the last 3 teams you play (Wisconsin, Michigan) are fighting for a conference title and the last team is fighting for NCAA birth. Just think Purdue deserves to be in with 7 B10 wins. Some bad losses though, kinda shot themselves in the foot early.

  10. Pingback: Postseason Projections | Ivy Hoops Online

  11. Jason

    I didn’t see this in the comments yet, so I thought I would mention it. Really like your projections here. The only thing that I would disagree with is that I feel that Iowa St is a sound team that will make the field of 68. Looking at other teams such as Kentucky, Baylor, Tennessee, etc… their resume and eye-test are superior. (I am a Charlotte fan, so this is not a bias comment.) I have seen them multiple times this year, and it’s hard for me to think of 30 at-large teams better than they are right now. Thanks for the updates!

    1. jtemplon Post author

      Iowa State won’t be in the next NIT (they’ll be in the tournament). They’ve been moving up and I’ve been impressed by their play lately.

  12. Jarred

    After The Razorbacks dismantling at Columbia, If they hold serve and win tomorrow at Bud Walton over Texas A&M, do they have to win a game in the Sec tourney to be a top 2 seed in the NIT or do they lock that up with a win tomorrow?


    1. jtemplon Post author

      I sure hope you know how ridiculous that sounds. Still, Georgia Tech is actually out of the NIT now. Were last team in and Northeastern’s loss in CAA final knocked them out.


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