As with any other year, the teams that just missed out on the Big Dance have found their way into the Little Dance, the NIT, but there are some interesting results with the seeding that has led to some interesting matchups, and some notable exceptions.
It's no surprise to see the Big Six conferences covering the top half of this bracket. Of the 16 seeds that comprise the top half of the bracket (No. 1-4 seeds), only four of them come from the mid-major ranks. Southern Mississippi received the fourth No. 1 seed, UMass earned themselves a No. 2 seed, and Denver and Brigham Young both earned themselves No. 3 seeds.
That said, there are some interesting matchups to be had. Robert Morris and Northeastern not only just snuck into the bracket as No. 8 seeds, but Northeastern gets the pleasure of playing an SEC team on the road (Alabama). Good luck with that one. Norfolk State will travel the least to take on Virginia, while Charleston Southern might put a legitimate scare into Southern Miss.
But wait, isn't Robert Morris playing an SEC team on the road, too? Actually no. Since Rupp Arena, Kentucky's home arena, is hosting NCAA Tournament games, the Wildcats must hit the road to face the Colonials. Which makes me very intrigued by the game and very sad I was in Pittsburgh last fall instead of now.
The Pioneers might have gotten to stay in Denver for their game, but they get the "reward" of facing an always dangerous Ohio Bobcats squad. The BYU Cougars are a little more likely to produce plenty of offense and take care of their visitor, the Washington Huskies.
There are a lot of very contrasted matchups in this bracket - who knows how Stephen F. Austin's lockdown defense will play against another slow-it-down squad like Stanford, especially on the road. Who knows of Detroit's triumverate of Ray McCallum, Nick Minnerath and Jason Calliste will be enough against a backsliding Arizona State squad.
I'm perhaps a little surprised that Western Illinois, North Dakota State, Weber State or Murray State doesn't appear in this bracket, but I guess playing in the conference tournament championship is not, in and of itself, enough of a feather in the cap to get you into the NIT.