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We Have Brackets! NIT Season Tip-Off Field Set

The NIT Tip-off bracket has been released and we break down which mid-major team has the best shot to reach Madison Square Garden. And could North Texas' Tony Mitchell make an early national name for himself?

James Lang-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Yes, we have your NIT Season Tip-Off bracket. Start filling out those papers... Oh wait.

We have brackets! This feels like a huge basketball day, even though it is just preseason and the actual tip-off is like 50 days from now.

We have brackets! Sixteen teams, all lined up and ready to play elimination basketball with the goal of getting to Madison Square Garden. There is even seeding.

Did I mention we have brackets?!

In all seriousness, this does feel like a big day for college basketball, because it gives us our first chance to really guess at which team could set its season on a very nice early path.

That team from first glance appears to be Lehigh, who we profiled last week as part of our Mid-Major Top 20 series. The Mountain Hawks earned the No. 5 seed in the bracket and will face Robert Morris in the first round.

That game will not be a cake walk as the Colonials are expected to be among the contenders in the Northeast. But Robert Morris doesn't have C.J. McCollum, although they do have two players that made our Northeast Top 10: Velton Jones and Lucky Jones. Of the games in the first round, this is by far the most intriguing matchup, with the winner likely getting a shot against Pittsburgh, who drew Fordham in the first round.

The Panthers were quite a disappointment last season, and it could be a spot where either Lehigh or Robert Morris can score an quick NCAA resume builder.

Of the other mid-majors in the field, it is unlikely that any will advance to MSG. Delaware should get by Penn, but taking down Virginia will be difficult. And Cleveland State will likely run into Michigan in the second round.

One other thing to watch in the field: North Texas has Alabama-Huntsville and then a likely date with Kansas State. It will be a nice two game showcase for sophomore Tony Mitchell, who scored an eye-opening 9.45 HW30 as a freshman. The Mean Green could definitely put on a show without a lot of preseason hype.