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.
Now there’s actually a reason for me to care about these NIT brackets with Iona and Wagner both hoping to get a bid. The last few teams into the NCAA Tournament here are some combination of Washington, Cincinnati, Mississippi State, Northwestern, South Florida, Texas and Seton Hall. Yeah, talk about a weak bubble. Thus if you’re wondering why the top of the NIT is a mess that’s why. The next bracket will come out on Thursday. All of this is highly subject to change.
This is the first of what will eventually be capsules for each of the NYC teams when I’m sure their season has concluded.
Team: St. Francis (NY)
Record: 15-15 (12-6 in the NEC); season ended by 80-72 loss to Quinnipiac in NEC Quarterfinals
Season High: Winning at Robert Morris on Jan. 28, 81-68 to go to 8-2 in NEC play.
Season Low: Losing at Colgate 65-63 to drop to 2-6 overall.
Really Good At: Defense — The Terriers finished second in the NEC in per possession defensive efficiency. They were also an excellent defensive rebounding team on most nights.
Struggled With: Turnovers — SFC finished 10th in the NEC in turnover percentage – in a generally turnover prone league. Young players moving into new roles sometimes struggled with trying to do too much. It got better as the season progressed.
- Stefan Perunicic (11.6 PPG, 42.4% from three)
- Justin Newton (defense, toughness and maturity at the point guard position)
- Akeem Johnson, Jr., F
- Jalen Cannon, Fr., F
- Brent Jones, Fr., G
- Dre Calloway, Sr., G (returns after missing most of 2011-12 to injury)
“I’m really happy that I had an opportunity to work with them. I wish them the best of luck and it was a really good season for me.” — Stefan Perunicic
“We put [the freshman] in the gym at the beginning of the year it was like mice running around. They had a lot of energy, but it was in a lot of different directions. It still is, but we’re getting better.” — Glenn Braica
“He was thrown to the fire. Some nights he played great. Some nights he struggled, but it’s all going to be better for him in the future. We’re going to get a lot of bang for our buck next year because of what he went through this year. He’s a very talented kid. He’s a hard worker. He’s got the right attitude. He’s a good kid and I just think he’s going to get better and better.” — Braica on Brent Jones
Outlook: Very positive. The Terriers surprised everyone this season by earning a home NEC tournament game after being picked to finish 11th in the conference before the season began. It earned head coach Glenn Braica the Jim Phelan NEC Coach of the Year award and there was a legitimate argument to be made that rebounding machine Jalen Cannon could’ve been the NEC’s Freshman of the Year as well. The majority of the core will return and it should give SFC the chance to compete for a home playoff game and more next season. Braica said that he expects to start at a higher level next season and that the team should progress quicker. Both suggest a tough team to contend with in Brooklyn Heights next season.
Drew Cannon wrote about his Easiest Bubble Solver earlier this season. It’s a relatively easy formula. Add a team’s RPI and Ken Pomeroy rank together and voila. You get where a team might end up on the S-curve. If it is to be believed we could certainly see a two-bid CAA. VCU and Drexel are both hanging out right on the fringes of my latest update of EBS. But I’m not concerned about the NCAA tournament. Nope. I want to use EBS to figure out the NIT field. I did and here is what the formula came up with.
This is the latest projected NIT bracket I have through Sunday’s results. Once again I used Jerry Palm’s projected NCAA field to figure out the at-large bids and determine where I was going with the NIT bracket. Thus if you’re wondering who to complain to about your team being in the NCAA field or the NIT talk to him. Miami (FL) and USF both scored big wins on Sunday that pushed them up near the top of the bracket. Also, my seed scrubbing was done using CBS’ team comparison feature, which made this much easier to do. I expect that there will be a ton of conference tournament upsets, so if you’re a seven or eight seed there is still work to do.
Here is the second edition of the NIT bracket using Drew Cannon’s BPI. I want to note a few things. Here are auto-bids by teams that you might be wondering where they are:
- Iona (MAAC auto, would’ve been the final at-large according to BPI)
- Akron (MAC auto, would’ve been in NIT)
- Murray State (OVC auto, would’ve been in NIT)
- Oral Roberts (Summit auto, would’ve been in NIT)
- VCU (CAA auto, would’ve been in NIT)
- Davidson (Southern auto, would’ve been in NIT)
- Cleveland St. (Horizon auto, would’ve been in NIT)
- Wagner (NEC auto, would be the 12th team into the NIT)
Final four teams into NCAA via at-large: Northwestern
($), Minnesota, Arizona and Saint Joseph’s
Now that we’ve got that out of the way. Here is the bracket. Note: As I did the last time I preserved the S-curve so there are match ups here that don’t make sense or would be reseeded. What it does mean though is that the ones are the top four teams into the NIT, the twos the next four etc. Hopefully this is informative. I’ll have a fully human authored and seeded bracket on Thursday.
6. New Mexico State
2. South Dakota State
3. Colorado State
1. Mississippi State
8. Virginia Tech
5. St. Bonaventure
6. South Florida
2. La Salle
1. Northern Iowa
4. Missouri State
To be honest. This is a pretty nice and quite reasonable bracket. The first four teams left out are: Montana, Tulsa, Kent State and Duquesne. There are good match ups throughout the bracket and an intriguing potential second regional final between Xavier and Cincinnati. My guess is that a couple of these would get flipped in a true NIT bracket, for instance Arkansas would host Missouri State, South Florida would host Marshall, Stanford would host Colorado State, etc. but it seems like the right teams are getting in. It’s also worth noting that there is an 11-13 Villanova team somewhat safely into the field. It’s crazy, but the Wildcats are sitting right around the NIT bubble.
Drew Cannon has cracked the Bubble Watch nut! By combining the powers of RPI and Ken Pomeroy he got a very simple formula that does a darn good job of projecting which teams are going to make the NCAA tournament. Around here though I leave that to the professionals. Instead, I like to figure which teams are going to be in the NIT. Turns out Cannon’s formula can be used for that too, since it tells you which teams are on the wrong side of the bubble.
Welcome to February. We’re in the thick of conference play, so that means that the NCAA tournament bracket is becoming more clear, right? Wrong. Unbalanced schedules are a death knell to a bracket prognosticator right now. Teams of equal quality can play completely different schedules and ::poof:: no one knows what’s up anymore. Take for instance Northwestern, the reason I started tracking this darn stuff in the first place. Two respectable bubble watch guys, Eamonn Brennan over at ESPN and Andy Glockner at SI don’t even have the Wildcats in their respective watches. Jerry Palm, another respected bracketologist has Northwestern in the NCAA tournament in his latest bracket.