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.
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)
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.
Conference play has begun and that means that if you play in a major conference you’ve got a whole bunch of chances to get quality wins over the next two months or so. Every game (unless you play in the Pac-12 or are facing the bottom quartile of the Big East) is one against a quality opponent. Teams that take advantage of those opportunities could find themselves in the NCAA tournament come Selection Sunday. The ones that fail to do so will be hanging out in the NIT.