There’s a new bracket out! There will be 1 more tomorrow (Selection Sunday).
There’s a lot of discussion about mid-major conference tournaments going on right now. Most of the focus is on the fact that the teams that were the No. 1 seeds won’t get to play in the NCAA tournament, where they could’ve represented their conferences in hopes of immortal glory, like Dunk City last season. Of course what the narrative tends to leave out is that all of these teams are heading to a different tournament, the NIT. The automatic bids are having another effect too, squeezing the bubble in a quite dramatic way.
Despite what many people tend to think, there are way more than 68 good teams in Division I each season. In fact, many talented teams are going to left out of even the NIT. As we head into a very busy Thursday I have an updated NIT bracketology. Take a look at the seeds, but also take a look at the teams that didn’t make it. My final two selections were Indiana St. and Maryland, but in order to do that I had to leave a ton of talented teams out of the field. There are about 12 other teams that I think would have a reasonable shot at an NIT bid if the auto bids didn’t exist. They all have resumes that currently rank in the Top 100 of Sagarin’s Pure Elo ranking. Of course being a Top 100 team isn’t enough anymore, because of all the automatic bids. Honestly, at this point in time I think it’s easier to figure out the NCAA tournament bubble than the NIT bubble and it’s quite possible that the number of available bids will continue to shrink as championship week continues.
Let’s just say the NCAA bubble teams aren’t going to be the only ones nervous on Selection Sunday. (So are the NIT bracketologists!)
NCAA Teams: Dayton, Nebraska, California, Saint Joseph’s, Stanford, Pittsburgh, Xavier, BYU, Tennessee
NIT Bracketology (auto bids are in ALL CAPS and bold):
8. FLORIDA GULF COAST
4. Southern Miss
3. West Virginia
2. Florida St.
8. San Francisco*
4. Illinois %
7. Middle Tennessee St.
8. ROBERT MORRIS
3. GREEN BAY
6. Indiana St.
2. St. John’s
7. HIGH POINT
3. N.C. State
6. Saint Mary’s
7. BOSTON U.
Just missed: Washington, Clemson, Richmond, Oregon St., Boise St., Buffalo, Ole Miss, Wake Forest, UC Santa Barbara, UTEP, Towson
* I bumped San Francisco down a seed line for geographic reasons.
% Illinois can’t host because its arena will be undergoing renovations.
Side Note for NYC folks: You could also switch LSU and Iona in this bracket (they’re the 5/6 cut line) and send Illinois to the Hynes Athletic Center, which might be the most awesome scene ever for ESPN. Just a thought.
There are more potential auto-bid stealers still out there. You can find them and all the known information about the CIT and CBI on this page.