It might not be quite the grandeur of the NCAA tournament, but the NIT in 2021 represents an opportunity for a few select teams to play in the playoffs – the first opportunity for college basketball teams in two years. .
March Madness may be the pinnacle of the sport, but it wasn’t always the case. At one point, the NIT (National Invitational Tournament) was considered the first postseason tournament, although it was not considered the official production competition for national champions. Indeed, winning the NIT for many years was considered comparable to – or better than – winning the NCAA tournament.
Times have changed, but that will not affect the history of the NIT, nor its place in the game of college basketball. Although modern teams would prefer to play in its postseason counterpart.
Here’s everything you need to know about the NIT: which teams are invited, tournament format, history and changes in 2021:
What is the NIT?
The NIT in its current form is a postseason tournament made up of teams that failed to make it to the NCAA tournament but still had seasons good enough to warrant playoff invitations. The NCAA resumed operations in 2005 from the Metropolitan Intercollegiate Basketball Association (MIBA), the original founders and operators of the tournament.
At one point, however, the NIT was considered the quintessential postseason basketball competition. MIBA founded it in 1938, a year before the NCAA tournament. It was generally considered the better of the two tournaments, for two reasons:
- The tournament took place entirely at Madison Square Garden in New York City, a more inviting media hub that the NCAA tournament lacked.
- Originally, the NCAA Selection Committee invited only one team from eight national regions, leaving the NIT with a more diverse and sometimes stronger group of teams.
The location and the competition have led many to regard the NIT as their favorite playoff tournament. This reputation continued at least until the mid-1950s. From Bill Bradley’s book, “A Sense of Where You Are: Bill Bradley at Princeton”:
“In the 1940s, when the NCAA tournament was less than 10 years old, the National Invitation Tournament, a saturnalia hosted in New York City at Madison Square Garden by the Metropolitan Intercollegiate Basketball Association, was the most glamorous of post-season tournaments. and generally had the better teams. The winner of the national invitational tournament was seen more as a national champion than the current, titular, national champion or winner of the NCAA tournament. “
Additionally, teams could accept offers for NIT and NCAA tournaments. The City College of New York, for example, won both in 1950; Utah in 1944 lost its first NIT game but won the NCAA tournament. The champions of both tournaments faced off in WWII from 1943 to 1945 in what was considered a charity game (the NCAA champion won each time).
The NIT began to decline in the 1970s – in part because television networks began to provide better prime-time access to the NCAA tournament, and also because the NCAA in 1975 abolished its rule allowing only one team per conference to participate in the tournament. This forced the NIT to relinquish its grip on strong teams.
The 1973-1974 Maryland basketball team were instrumental in the 1975 rule change. The Terrapins, who finished the No. 4 nationally ranked team, were excluded from the NCAA tournament after losing the ACC tournament final to NC State. This prompted the NCAA to expand its postseason tournament to 32 teams, allowing for more than one entry per conference.
That same Maryland team became the first to turn down a bid for the national invitational tournament.
NIT media format
NIT support typically consists of 32 teams and five rounds. The first two rounds as well as the quarter-finals are organized on the campus of the highest ranked team; the semi-finals and the championship game are held at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
|Rounds 1-2, quarter-finals||Campus games|
|Semi-finals, championship||Madison Square Garden (New York)|
NCAA March 1 ad the NIT in 2021 would drop from its usual scope of 32 teams to just 16 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the NIT will not feature campus games or its traditional finish at Madison Square Garden; this year’s entire tournament will take place in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. The Comerica Center (Frisco, TX) and UNT Coliseum (Denton, TX) will host matches, although specific venues for each round are being finalized.
Another potential change is the NIT selection process. The NCAA released on February 26 protocols to replace NCAA tournament teams who cannot play due to issues with the coronavirus. The scenario would only occur after the initial 68 teams have been defined, but before the start of the game: if one team is unable to play, the NCAA would select the top four teams – ranked first through fourth – and the top four teams. would invite to participate. in March Madness as an at-large. Otherwise, they will be a seed 1 in the NIT.
Finally, the NIT 2021 tournament will feature a third place match, which will be played on the same day as the championship. This is the first time the NIT has hosted a third place match since 2003.
NIT selection process
The NIT does not have a selection process per se, although it does offer automatic bidding to any team that wins its conference’s regular season title but fails to complete the NCAA tournament (a rule change put implemented in 2017). All other teams are selected as a general offer. All selections are made after the NCAA Tournament Selection Show.
Fifty-three teams won the NIT, with St. John’s leading with five titles, not counting the 2003 Redstorm Championship. Bradley has the second-highest number of titles in NIT history, with four. Dayton and Stanford have three titles each, followed by 13 teams that have two titles (among that group are Michigan and Minnesota, which would have had three titles without the vacant championships). Thirty-six teams have won the NIT once.
Texas in 2019 was the last team to win the NIT; there was no tournament in 2020 after it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
|St. John’s||6 *||1989||3|
|Caroline from the south||2||2006||1|
|État de Fresno||1||1983||0|
|la Sainte Croix||1||1954||0|
|Caroline du Nord||1||1971||1|
|Sud de l’Illinois||1||1967||0|
|Miss du Sud||1||1987||0|
|État de Wichita||1||2011||0|
* Comprend le titre vacant de St. John’s en 2003
** Comprend le titre libéré du Michigan en 1997
*** Comprend le titre vacant du Minnesota en 1998