NIT Bracketology: Feb. 13, 2017

Now it’s getting real. There is just a month until Selection Sunday and the resumes are starting to solidify.

The NCAA Tournament bubble is still a mess. Any of the teams in the top three seeds could make a run into the bracket. It’s particularly hard to figure out how the committee will deal with Illinois State. The RPI is excellent, but the schedule is mediocre at best.

Around .500

In the middle of the bracket there are a few teams that are flirting with the magical .500 cutoff line. Georgetown and Pittsburgh will probably be in the NIT if they stay above that line, both have some solid wins and played extremely difficult schedules, but whether they actually finish there is still in doubt. KenPom has Georgetown finishing 16-15 (7-11 Big East) and Pittsburgh at 16-15 (5-13 ACC). Some untimely losses or a 1-and-done stint in their respective conference tournaments would probably be enough to drop either team from consideration. For now though they’re hanging around the middle of the bracket.

Two other Big Ten teams are hanging out around the bottom of the bracket: Penn State and Illinois. The Nittany Lions swept the Illini. Both are projected to finish just 16-15 (though PSU at 8-10 Big Ten and Illinois at 6-12). Because Penn State has won more games in Big Ten play its resume is a little stronger, which is why I have the Nittany Lions further away from the bubble.

The Mid-Majors

The other intriguing teams to me? BYU (18-9, 11-7) is the West Coast Conference’s third best team. But the Cougars also have losses to Utah Valley, San Diego and Pepperdine, and their best win is either at the very beginning of the season versus Princeton or in December versus Colorado. BYU could really use to knock off Saint Mary’s or Gonzaga down the stretch. UT Arlington should probably be my projected Sun Belt champion, but they have some work to do in conference play. At a projected Top 50 RPI and currently 69th in KenPom I’m intrigued if that team is in the NIT at-large discussion. They can of course end that by getting the top seed in the conference tournament.

The Mess That Is The AAC

Finally, Temple, Memphis and UCF demonstrate the complexity of evaluating the American Athletic Conference this season. The AAC has a clear top two (SMU / Cincinnati) and Houston, while a step behind, looks like a bubble NCAA team. Then there’s a complicated third tier with Memphis, Connecticut, Tulsa, UCF, and Temple. The Huskies have a brutal schedule down the stretch and Tulsa just isn’t that good (128 in KenPom). Both could easily finish below .500 and aren’t in this bracket. Memphis beat Iowa, Oklahoma, and South Carolina and they don’t have any particularly bad losses. The Tigers are probably the closest thing the AAC has to an NIT lockā€”and I might have them too low currently. Temple is 14-12 currently, but has an easy schedule down the stretch, swept Memphis and beat West Virginia and Florida State on neutral courts early in the season. If the Owls close strong expect to see them in the NIT as well. Then there’s UCF. The Knights, in Johnny Dawkins’s first season, are a nice story, but they played a weak non-conference schedule and their only really good win is home against Houston. Still, they sneak into the bottom of this bracket. It’s unlikely they’ll stay there.

Without further ado here’s the bracket. Happy to discuss any questions in the comments.

NCAA Bubble (last 10): TCU, Syracuse, VCU, Kansas St., Miami (FL), Rhode Island, Houston, Tennessee, Marquette, Michigan

NIT Bracket:

1. Virginia Tech
8. UCF
4. Mississippi
5. Penn St.
3. Ohio St.
6. Memphis
2. Clemson
7. Iowa

1. Arkansas
8. San Diego St.
4. Texas Tech
5. Auburn
3. Alabama
6. UT Arlington
2. Georgia Tech
7. Mississippi St.

1. Indiana
8. Colorado
4. Boise St.
5. BYU
3. Utah
6. New Mexico
2. Illinois St.
7. Texas A&M

1. Seton Hall
8. College of Charleston
4. Georgetown
5. Pittsburgh
3. Providence
6. Illinois
2. Georgia
7. Temple

Also (seriously) considered: Richmond, Davidson, Ohio, Colorado St., La Salle, San Francisco, St. Bonaventure, Furman, Winthrop, Chattanooga, UC Davis

33 thoughts on “NIT Bracketology: Feb. 13, 2017

    1. John Templon Post author

      Yes, you can see them in the NCAA Tournament in the Last 10 section. I have Tennessee projected to play in the First Four right now.

      1. John Templon Post author

        I’m not sure what you mean. Did the committee say something over the weekend when they released the top 16? I’m projecting what the bracket will look like at the end of the season, whereas the committee is only using games played thus far, so that’s a part of it as well.

  1. Bryan9451

    Where do you see Auburn at if they finish 5-1 down the stretch with a win vs Florida and then 2 wins in the SEC tournament? Or how about 4-2 with a loss to Florida and a couple of wins in the SEC tournament?

    1. John Templon Post author

      That would be an impressive finish. It’s hard to project where a team will end up, because you don’t know what other teams will do around them, but they’d most likely end up with a Top 4 seed at that point. Beating Florida tonight though would go a long way toward securing a postseason bid.

  2. Alex Iskowitz

    where do you have wake forest at this point? In the ncaa tournament or neither the nit or ncaa tournament? What are your thoughts on them in general? they are an intersting team to say the least

    1. John Templon Post author

      I have Wake Forest in the NCAA Tournament as of the latest update. The middle of the ACC probably deserves its own post at some point, because they’re all around the bubble. How the end of the season plays out really matters for that league.

  3. Alex Iskowitz

    Do you think if they finish with a 16-14 record and then getting 1 or 2 wins in the acc tournament they can get a bid for the dance?

    1. John Templon Post author

      I considered them, but it seems rather unlikely. Not impossible though and they’ll be in the conversation.

      1. badfrog68

        With all the Mid Major Conference Champions that end up losing in their conference tournament and get pushed into the NIT, most good Mid Majors like Furman would have no chance at a realistic at large bid. At least 10 NIT spots will be gone with this rule.

        The NIT is now made up of bad power conference teams and really good mid major conference champions that get screwed by having great seasons and losing 1 game in a conference tournament.

        1. John Templon Post author

          Not necessarily, there are some good mid-majors that haven’t been conference champions. Check out my post on data from recent history for what it takes for a mid-major to get an at-large to the NIT.

  4. Dave

    Does George Mason have a shot? They finish the season playing Rhode Island, Dayton, and VCU. they already beat Penn State who you have in the NIT, and they beat Richmond, Davidson, and La Salle who you have listed as “seriously considered”

    1. John Templon Post author

      George Mason has a shot, but it’s going to take some wins down the stretch. The 3 losses to start the season and an extremely weak slate of opponents in non-conference (minus Houston and Penn State) left GMU behind the 8-ball. If George Mason can win 3 of 5 down the stretch it becomes more realistic, but right now they look like they’ll be on the wrong side of the NIT bubble.

  5. Mike

    Why would Indiana be a top seed in light of their horrible defense, a lackluster offense, and a coach who’s proven without talent that he can’t win a marble contest.

    1. John Templon Post author

      Luckily only their resume matters. And as of when this bracket was published IU seemed to be in a decent position. Of course they’ve since gone and lost at Minnesota, the Hoosiers’ 4th loss in a row. They’re trending in the wrong direction and have a big week with @Iowa and H-Northwestern up next.

    1. John Templon Post author

      Well, they’d still have to play in the Big Ten Tournament and 1 of those wins would be against a non-DI opponent (Molloy). So even the 4% chance KenPom puts winning the last 3 at seems unlikely to propel Rutgers to the NIT. Maybe next season?

  6. Colby

    Purdue did it a couple years ago. Nebraska, and Penn St got accepted last year but they didn’t want to participate.

    1. John Templon Post author

      I don’t usually post projections of the CBI or CIT, instead I track teams that say in the media somewhere that they’re interested or definitely hosting. See the Tracking page for that. (So far the only one is Auburn.)

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