It’s almost time to start NIT Bracketology up again. My first bracket of the season will be coming up after the New Year, but first I wanted to look back at where we came from and if there were any lessons learned.
With Stony Brook playing in the NIT starting tonight I thought it’d be good to get my picks on record. Unfortunately I have the Seawolves losing tonight, but hopefully they’ll be able to give Seton Hall a good game. You can watch it on ESPN3 at 7:15 p.m.
Overall, I think the NIT selection committee did a great job this season. Sure, they had a penchant for over seeding teams from a fake BCS conference (the Pac-12) and they put La Salle into the bracket, but charged with picking 21 at-larges after 11 bids got ripped away they did a pretty good job. Here are the four biggest issues I have with the bracket and then just two be nice two things I appreciated.
The NIT bracket is out. Iona isn’t on it. Wagner isn’t either. The difference is the emotions those two teams are feeling right now.
For the Gaels’ it’s about relief and a second chance. Their selection as an at-large bid, just the second in MAAC history, is an opportunity to make good on all the promise the season has held for them. The First Four in Dayton on Tuesday night against BYU will be a showcase for the Gaels. But more on that later.
For the Seahawks’ there is probably disappointment on Staten Island tonight. Even with 25 wins, the most of any team not selected to play in either the NCAA tournament of the NIT, it’s a tough reality to grasp.
The NIT Selection Committee, much like their cousins in the NCAA selection room, are charged with picking the best teams they can for at-large bids. The unfortunate thing is that they don’t know how many they’ll get to pick until late in Championship Week. This season 11 teams earned automatic berths by winning their conference’s regular season title and failing to win their conference tournament.
Five of those teams ended up on the bottom two seed lines, meaning they wouldn’t have gotten in any other way. One wonders if Stony Brook had beaten Vermont on Long Island on Saturday morning if things would’ve been different for the Seahawks.
Charged with picking the “best” remaining 21 teams, the committee did about the best job it could. (I’ll talk about La Salle and Cleveland State in my next post.)
Part of Wagner’s problem was that their opponents during non-conference play couldn’t hold up their end of the bargain. Princeton and Penn did compete for an Ivy League title, but Pittsburgh crashed, Santa Clara fell apart (not winning another game) and Air Force stumbled after the Seahawks beat them. It made the resume a little less impressive. Instead of a Top 50 victory Pittsburgh became barely a Top 100 win.
You do the best you can at the beginning of the season to make a schedule that: 1) Is achievable with the current team. 2) Is competitive. 3) Will put you in a place for a postseason bid. Wagner did almost everything they could’ve done, but for the Seahawks it just wasn’t quite enough.
It’s sad that not getting selected means the end of the road for teams like Wagner. Two other NEC teams, Robert Morris (CIT) and Quinnipiac (CBI), will be playing postseason basketball outside of the NCAA tournament. Wagner decided not to pursue postseason basketball after getting passed over by the NIT. It’s understandable, but it means a swift, unexpected end to a season that went so far and meant so much.
Here is the final projected NIT bracket. If I’m reading NIT-ology correctly we’re going to differ on four teams. I’m taking Iowa, Princeton, Denver and Illinois State and he’s taking Weber State, Illinois, Pittsburgh and Maryland. (Because Arkansas is getting bumped in his bracket by St. Bonaventure’s win.) We’ll see what happens tonight at 9 p.m.
Here we are once again. Selection Sunday is upon us. For this bracket I did a complete scrub of all the seeds. I also started taking into account the fact that some major conference teams can make offers to host that the NCAA just can’t turn down. In the back of my head the Iowa quote about making a competitive offer keeps coming up. The Hawkeyes are definitely in the field in my opinion — they just have so many good wins it’d be hard to turn them down — but for the first time I have them playing Round 1 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The games have already started with Stony Brook hosting Vermont in the America East championship, but today’s slate of 22 games offers many potential minefields for potential NIT teams. Here are the games you should be paying attention to if your team is currently on the bubble.
When doing NIT Bracketology we’ve reached a point where there are too many good teams to squeeze into too few slots. Considering there are deserving mid-majors that want to play in the NIT (like Wagner, Princeton, Illinois State, Northern Iowa, etc.) and a number of major conference teams (like Mississippi State, Illinois, Pittsburgh) that really struggled down the stretch it’s tough to project exactly what will happen.
The NIT keeps popping bubbles as teams take automatic bids to the tournament. The bubble teams are also making life incredibly difficult with losses. I’ll have a brand new bracket tomorrow morning. Considering many of the power conferences have their quarterfinal games today it’s a big time for NIT bubblers to make a run. Here are the games to keep an eye on.
As the major conference tournaments kick into high gear this week there’s a special type of bid stealer on the loose. High-major teams that have so-so records against their peers are hoping for one last shot to prove that they should play in the NIT this season. You see a lot of them at the bottom of the bracket already. UCLA, Pittsburgh, Colorado and LSU all sit somewhere around the cut-line. The Panthers in particular are an interesting case. They’re 17-16 overall after losing to Georgetown in the Big East Tournament, but the Panthers also have 14 losses to Top 100 competitors. I also watched them live on Tuesday and was sort of impressed. Is that enough to play in the NIT? I’m not really sure.
The Pac-12 tournament is just starting up and it should prove, along with the Atlantic 10 tournament, to be one of the tournaments that impacts this NIT bracket the most. UCLA, Colorado, Stanford, Arizona and Oregon have opportunities to play themselves out of the bracket (in both directions) during the next few days. Also, Arkansas, Maryland and New Mexico State all still have an opportunity to improve their resumes. Those three teams are sitting outside of the NIT looking in right now. Of course, more bid thieves could make this a moot point. Three are already hanging out at the bottom of the bracket.