As the brackets for the NCAA Tournament and National Invitational Tournament are set by the NCAA, there are 48 other teams getting ready to play postseason basketball.
The CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT) and College Basketball Invitational (CBI) are diligently working to fill their brackets as well. (Another tournament that attempted to get off the ground last season, the Vegas 16, will not be played in 2017.)
Both of these tournaments are based on a pay-to-play model where the host puts up some of the costs in hopes of making it back in ticket sales. For instance, last season’s run to the CBI title was definitely a boon for the Nevada Wolfpack in terms of ticket sales. And while I don’t have official numbers, it seemed Columbia’s run to the title of the CIT last season was certainly a positive for the school as well.
I reached out to the organizers of both tournaments, but didn’t hear anything official back, so consider this your unofficial primer to the CIT and CBI. It’s worth noting that these tournaments appear to be on relatively the same level in terms of competition and it has become mostly an “eye of the beholder” type situation for teams when deciding where to play after being left out of the first 100 slots.
CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament
The CIT is run by CollegeInsider the same people that run the Mid-Major Top 25 and generally promote mid-major basketball. The CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament is a 32-team tournament that only allows in mid-majors with a .500 record or better.
This will be the ninth edition of the CIT. The 2016 edition was won by Columbia over UC Irvine at Levien Gymnasium.
Teams that are hosting CIT games will often declare their intentions before Selection Sunday in order to garner up interest for their home game. For instance, we already know that Jacksonville will host Saint Francis University in a first round matchup. (Here’s where we put all of the teams we’ve heard about.)
The CIT doesn’t use a set bracket, but rather figures out the host teams based on who has the ability to play a game at their gym—that’s not possibility early in the tournament this season for Canisius due to the NCAA Tournament—and then what teams are rated the highest. (I believe they often use KenPom for that piece of the equation.)
The best part about the CIT is the inclusiveness of so many mid-majors that have had strong seasons for a program of their caliber, but still may have otherwise missed out on postseason play. This season that already includes: UMBC, Saint Peter’s, Furman, Samford and Liberty. The tournament is also guaranteed to have representation from either the SWAC or MEAC.
The semifinals and finals of the CIT are broadcast on CBS Sports Network. The tournament is also going to be streaming early round games on Facebook Live. The full first round should be released sometime in the evening of Selection Sunday. Check here (or our tracking page) for more updates.
College Basketball Invitational
The CBI is a 16-team tournament run by the Gazelle Group. Based in Princeton, NJ they’re an events group best known for their early-season non-conference tournaments such as the 2K Classic, Legends Classic and Gotham Classic. Those non-conference tournaments feed the relationships that help the CBI fill up its postseason tournament field each year.
And they’ve been successful doing it. This is the 10th edition of the CBI and to celebrate they’re holding a vote for the all-time CBI Team. The 24 nominees include a bunch of players you’ve heard of, including Brett Bisping of Siena (MVP when Siena won in 2014), Doug McDermott of Creighton, and Kenneth Faried at Morehead State.
The fact that a number of former major conference players are on the list also shows a bit about how the tournament has changed over the years. Last season no Power Six team participated in the tournament for the first time since its inception.
The CBI uses a set bracket, which will be released sometime on Sunday night once all the contracts are signed. Unlike the CIT, the CBI tends to announce its teams all at once. One team I expect to see in the field is Stony Brook. The Seawolves played in both the 2014 and 2015 editions of the CBI before reaching the NCAA Tournament last season and America East has generally had a good relationship with the tournament. (Vermont played in each of the past two editions as well.)
ESPNU holds the broadcast rights to the best of three championship series that takes place in late March or early April. The new schedule will eventually replace the 2016 edition.
I hope that helps everyone have a slightly better understanding of both of these tournaments. Feel free to ask questions in the comments!