Well, here were are. We are just hours from learning the teams that will play postseason basketball. Only 100 teams will have earned the opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament or the NIT. That is less than one-third of all teams in NCAA Division I. It is an honor to make it to either of these tournaments.
This season we welcomed the NCAA Evaluation Tool (aka NET) into our lives. Has anything really changed? No one really knows, but we’ll get a hint soon enough. The guess here though is that things will stay frustratingly the same, as a new tool doesn’t change how two roomfuls of committee members evaluate at-large pools.
The NIT is especially perplexing this season. There are the typical middling power conference teams, such as Butler and Arkansas, and the mid-majors with good resumes, such as San Francisco, ETSU, Utah Valley and BYU that may just fall just short. Then again, I could also be wrong. In my decade of predicting the NIT bracket (yes, it really has been that long) I’ve never felt less confident about a projection. Will there be a new NET era?
If there is here are some other teams not in my bracket that might hear their names called at 8:30 p.m. on ESPNU.
Potential NIT Teams (In order from least surprising to most surprising):
- San Francisco
- Oregon State
- San Diego State
- South Carolina
- Utah Valley
- South Florida
- San Diego
As for me? I’m sticking with the status quo. That means that I’m leaving South Carolina (15-16 against Division I) out of the bracket — though I did include .500 Texas and Butler. The only team since 2007 to receive an at-large bid to the NIT with a .500 record is North Carolina at 16-16 in 2010. Those Tar Heels were the defending national champions. The Longhorns are almost assuredly going to add to that legacy. Whether Butler will join them is one of the biggest questions hanging over the field. I chose to put the Bulldogs in because they have eight wins against teams projected to be in the NCAA and NIT fields.
But honestly, I hope I’m wrong. I hope this is the year teams like ETSU, BYU and San Francisco somehow make the NIT. The tournament would be better for it.
Last Four in NCAA Tournament: Temple, Washington, VCU, St. John’s
8. St. Francis (PA)
7. South Dakota State
1. N.C. State
8. Norfolk State
6. Fresno State
1. UNC Greensboro
6. Wichita State
7. Sam Houston State
8. Loyola IL
7. Wright State
Note: I will update the NIT bracket one final time after the NCAA Selection Show because the First Four Out will automatically become the tournament’s No. 1 seeds. If you want to see that bracket you can follow me on Twitter.