It may not have the greatness of the NCAA Tournament, but the NIT in 2021 represents an opportunity for a select few teams to play in the postseason, the first such opportunity on college basketball teams in two years.
March Madness may be the pinnacle of the sport, but it wasn’t always that way. At one time, the NIT (National Invitational Tournament) was considered the premier postseason tournament, even if it was not considered the official national champions production competition. In fact, winning the NIT for many years was considered equal to or better than winning the NCAA Tournament.
Times have changed, but that won’t affect the history of the NIT or its place in college basketball. Even if modern teams prefer to play their 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 consisting of teams that failed to make the NCAA Tournament but still had good enough seasons to justify invitations to play in the postseason. The NCAA took over its operation 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 preeminent postseason basketball competition. The MIBA founded it in 1938, a year before the NCAA Tournament. Overall, it was considered the best of the two tournaments, for two reasons:
- The tournament was held in its entirety at Madison Square Garden in New York, a more attractive media center that the NCAA Tournament lacked.
- The NCAA selection committee originally invited only one team from eight national regions, leaving the NIT with a more varied and occasionally stronger pool of teams.
The location and competition led many to consider the NIT the preferable postseason tournament. That reputation lasted until at least 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 Invitational Tournament, a saturnalia held in New York at Madison Square Garden by the Metropolitan Intercollegiate Basketball Association, was the most glamorous of the postseason tournaments and generally had better teams. The winner of the National Invitational Tournament was considered more of a national champion than the current, starter, national champion, or NCAA Tournament winner. “
Additionally, teams may accept offers for the NIT and NCAA Tournament. 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 played each other during World War II 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 providing better primetime access to the NCAA Tournament, and also because the NCAA in 1975 removed its rule of allowing only one team per conference will participate in the tournament. That forced the NIT to give up its control over strong teams.
A significant factor in the 1975 rule change was the 1973-74 Maryland basketball team. The Terrapins, who finished the team No. 4 nationally, stayed out of the NCAA Tournament after losing the ACC Tournament final against NC State. That led the NCAA to expand its postseason tournament to 32 teams, allowing more than one offer per conference.
That same Maryland team became the first to decline an offer for the National Invitational Tournament.
NIT support format
The NIT pool generally includes 32 teams and five rounds. The first two rounds, as well as the quarterfinals, are held on the campus of the highest ranked team; the semifinals and the championship game are held at Madison Square Garden in New York.
|Rounds 1-2, quarterfinals||Campus games|
|Semifinals, championship||Madison Square Garden (New York)|
The NCAA on March 1 Announced the NIT in 2021 would be reduced from its usual field of 32 teams to just 16 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the NIT will not feature games on campus or its traditional finish at Madison Square Garden; the entirety of this year’s tournament will be held in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. The Comerica Center (Frisco, Texas) and UNT Coliseum (Denton, Texas) will host games, although specific venues for each round are being finalized.
Another potential change is the NIT selection process. On February 26, the NCAA released protocols to replace NCAA Tournament teams that are unable to play due to issues with the coronavirus. The scenario would only occur after the starting team of 68 has been established, but before the start of the game: if a team is unable to play, the NCAA would select the top four teams, ranked first through fourth, and invite them to participate. . in March Madness as a general. Otherwise they will be a seed 1 in the NIT.
Finally, the 2021 NIT Tournament will feature a game for third place, which will be played on the same day as the championship. It is the first time the NIT has held a game for third place since 2003.
NIT selection process
The NIT does not have a selection process per se, although it does offer automatic bids to any team that wins its conference regular season title but does not make it to the NCAA Tournament (a rule change implemented in 2017). All other equipment is selected as a general offer. All selections are made after the NCAA Tournament Selection Show.
Fifty-three teams have won the NIT, with St. John’s leading all with five titles, not including Redstorm’s vacant 2003 championship. Bradley has the second-most titles in NIT history, with four. Dayton and Stanford each have three titles, followed by 13 teams that have two titles (among that group are Michigan and Minnesota, which would have had three titles if it weren’t for 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.
|College||Champions||More recent||Runner-up finalists|
|de San Juan||6 *||1989||3|
|State of ohio||two||2008||1|
|Virginia Tech||two||nineteen ninety five||0|
|Estado de Fresno||1||1983||0|
|Carolina del Norte||1||1971||1|
|Sur de Illinois||1||1967||0|
|Estado de Wichita||1||2011||0|
* Incluye el título vacante de St. John’s 2003
** Incluye el título vacante de Michigan en 1997
*** Incluye el título vacante de Minnesota en 1998
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.