National invitational tournament (NIT)

National Invitational Tournament (NIT)

The National Invitational Tournament or as its more commonly called, the NIT, is an annual postseason tournament in college basketball. The tournament is formatted as a single elimination bracket. The tournament contains 32 teams and five rounds of action.

The NIT used to be the premier college basketball tournament before March Madness surpassed it in both popularity and notoriety. That happened in 1970 when the NCAA enacted a rule stating that any team invited to March Madness must compete in it. No longer could teams choose between the two tournaments, which has decreased the popularity of The NIT to where it is today.

When and Where is the NIT?

The NIT occurs simultaneously as other postseason tournament March Madness. It begins in March and plays its final game in the beginning of April (this past year’s championship game was played April 4th).

The opening rounds of the NIT are played at the home stadium of the higher ranked seed. This is done to ensure that attendance for the tournament will be high enough to earn sufficient revenue. The semifinals and final however are played in New York City at Madison Square Garden (MSG).  

What Teams Qualify for the NIT?

The 32 teams that compete every year in the NIT are teams that were not invited to be a part of college basketball’s number one tournament, March Madness. For that reason the tournament is sometimes jokingly referred to as the “Not Invited Tournament”. The top seeds are the four teams that were listed as the “first four out” by the college basketball selection committee.

Teams that win their conference’s regular season title are guaranteed a spot in the NIT. So if a small conference team wins the regular season but loses in their conference tournament they lose out on a March Madness bid, but they still get to be in the NIT.

The remaining spots are filled by the tournament’s selection committee based on who they feel are the best remaining teams not in a tournament.

2019 NIT Tournament

This past year’s NIT tournament was won by two seed Texas University when they defeated the fifth seeded underdog Lipscomb by a score of 81-66.

Some notable moments included the number one seeded Alabama Crimson Tide being defeated in the first round of the tournament by eight seed Norfolk State.

Along with Lipscomb making a somewhat unexpected run based on their seed, Wichita State (sixth seed) also went deep, making it to the final four.

Basketball National Invitation Tournament

The National Invitation Tournament in basketball is a men’s college basketball tournament for the best teams in the country that did not make the NCAA Tournament. The tournament was developed in 1938 by a group called MIBA and is still held annually today. The most recent winner of the tournament was the Texas Longhorns. The later rounds in the tournament are typically held at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Tournament Structure

Thirty-two teams are invited to the tournament competing in a single-elimination format until a winner is decided. Teams used to have a .500 or greater record but that rule was changed in 2017 to allow more teams to be eligible. The teams are seeded 1-8 in four separate brackets and play until there is a champion.

Selection Process

Teams are selected based on multiple factors. They used to be chosen in consultation with ESPN, this is because they wanted to pick teams from large conferences with large tv followings. ESPN covered the tournament thus getting big ratings and keeping MIBA sustained financially.