NIT Bracketology: February 27

Now this gets real. A number of mid-majors have determined their league champion. There’s only one week of major conference play remaining and the bracket is getting much clearer.

Well, sort of. The NCAA Tournament bubble is still very much a work in progress. It’s unclear to me why people think this is a “bad” bubble. There are a number of strong teams with different weaknesses on their resume, which is what happens every season.

I’ve had particular trouble figuring out what to do with the Big East teams hanging out around the cutline. (And fading Xavier could be there soon.) Right now I have both Marquette and Seton Hall in the First Four. Another team that’s fading is Northwestern. The Wildcats have lost five of their past seven games. Their last two—hosting Michigan and Purdue—offer two more opportunities for key victories. Even if Northwestern was to lose both, the Wildcats would most likely make the tournament barring an early flameout in the Big Ten Tournament.

Near the NCAA bubble though the biggest outlier decisions I made were to include Houston and Illinois St. in the bracket. Houston is probably the most controversial. UH is 38th in KenPom and 5-0 against “B” games and 0-5 in “A” games. My concern is eventually that might not be good enough. Though if the Cougars beat Cincinnati on the road on Thursday that would be a big step in the right direction. Quite frankly, Illinois St. should be in the bracket, even if the schedule wasn’t ideal. If you’re putting TCU in the bracket above ISU based on a game played on Nov. 21 you’re crazy. I think the Redbirds are clearly one of the nation’s 36 best at-large teams.

The bottom of the NIT is a little messy too. That’s partly because teams like UNC Asheville and Valparaiso have been added to the bracket. Both narrowly missed out on winning their conference titles and will have to play on the road to take home a tournament championship. They have resumes that definitely will be intriguing for the committee. College of Charleston, the second best team in the CAA and a serious contender for the tournament title, and New Mexico St. are two other mid-majors that nobody might be talking about, but are quite deserving.

Then there’s BYU. The Cougars were starting to fall out of the bracket, but their victory over previously undefeated Gonzaga is an excellent capstone to the season. Despite some questionable losses it seems highly unlikely that BYU would get left out at this point.

The updates will be coming to the Current NIT Bracketology page on a more regular basis now, including when teams are granted automatic bids to the tournament. Stay tuned later in the week.

NCAA Tournament (In Order): Syracuse, Illinois St., USC, Northwestern, Providence, Marquette, Seton Hall, Wake Forest, Houston

NIT Bracket:

1. Rhode Island
8. Texas A&M
4. Georgia Tech
5. BYU
3. Utah
6. Colorado St.
2. Mississippi
7. UNC Asheville

1. California
8. San Francisco
4. Boise St.
5. Texas Tech
3. Clemson
6. Auburn
2. Illinois
7. New Mexico St.

1. Vanderbilt
8. Richmond
4. Alabama
5. College of Charleston
3. Ohio St.
6. Valparaiso
2. TCU
7. Fresno St.

1. Georgia
8. San Diego St.
4. Indiana
5. Pittsburgh
3. Tennessee
6. UCF
2. Kansas State
7. Arkansas St.

17 thoughts on “NIT Bracketology: February 27

  1. Jason Wells

    You can’t have Georgia playing Texas A&M because conference teams can’t play in the first round they can meet in the quarterfinals unless a 9th team for the same conference gets in.

    1. John Templon Post author

      Ugh, you are right. I will adjust. A lot of SEC teams in that area making it challenging.

  2. Steve

    How is Iowa not in???? 16-13 and 8-8 in the Big Ten with two big wins this week. One against Indiana a team projected in your NIT field already and the other on the road against Maryland who is a NCAA tournament lock… Bogus

    1. John Templon Post author

      Iowa is an interesting case. Assuming they lose to Wisconsin and beat Penn State they’ll probably have an RPI right around 90. The Hawkeyes played a pretty bad non-conference schedule and lost most of the important ones. (Iowa St. being the exception.) They were considered, but they’re a bubble team in terms of NIT consideration. We’ll see how Thursday and Sunday shake out.

    1. John Templon Post author

      Keep winning? St. Bonaventure is definitely a bubble team in terms of the NIT and if automatic bids are needed they will drop out.

  3. Sam

    With Penn State sitting at 14-15 and there SOS top 20 in country and their RPI 81, would a record at .500 be enough to put them in the NIT?

    1. John Templon Post author

      If Penn State were to reach .500 they’d definitely be in the conversation. I’m not anticipating it, which is why they’re not in this bracket.

  4. GJG

    if a school like Akron, ETSU, or Vermont should get upset in their conference tournament, any chance they get a first round home game in the NIT or will they be relegated to spots way down the seed list despite their impressive seasons and gaudy records in favor of very pedestrian power conference schools?

    As an Akron alum I am still trying to figure out how they ended up at Ohio State last year when the Zips clearly had the better resume. Then the committee put them in the first game (making it Akron’s 4th in 6 days) against a well rested squad on their home floor. Forgive me for not putting a lot of good faith in the NIT selectors.

    1. John Templon Post author

      What the committee did to Akron last season was criminal. I thought they were likely to get a home game. Based on that precedent it’s tough to see them getting better seeds. I haven’t looked into the cases of the auto bids yet, but I too wouldn’t have much faith in the autos moving up. Without fantastic resumes mid-majors tend to get relegated to road games in the NIT.

  5. Ethan Russell

    This would have BYU and UT potentially playing in the second round. Classic! Especially after Utah pulled out of the regular season game because the rivalry was getting too physical.

    1. Garrett.hungerford@yahoo.com

      Why is richmond 8 and rhode island 1? I know rhode island beat cinncy but richmond whooped rhode island with ease. Tj Cline alone should get them atleast to a 6 seed. Im probably a little bias but hes e best player in the nation that people dont know about.

      1. John Templon Post author

        Rhode Island’s profile is significantly stronger than Richmond’s. It’s why URI is being considered for the NCAA Tournament and Richmond is an NIT bubble team. Start with RPI where URI is 46th and Richmond is 94th.

  6. Glen Roberts

    Seems like Memphis should be in. Their RPI may not be that high but they have a good record and have beat some top 25 teams. Possibly, they could have a 20 win season.

    1. John Templon Post author

      I had it in my last bracket, but BYU’s win over Gonzaga both helped the Cougars stay in the tournament and made it less likely the two teams would play each other. Maybe it is possible in a 4/5 or as a second round matchup.

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