It’s Championship Week! This NIT bracket has been seriously influenced by the events of the past week. For instance, Utah St. took away the suspense of the bubble by winning the Mountain West tournament. The Aggies kicking San Diego State into the at-large pool also made it that much harder to get into the NCAA Tournament. On the other side of it, Northern Iowa was forced from Arch Madness early and may not have enough to warrant an at-large bid.
There are still a lot of chances for movement this week from all the potential automatic bids that could go to No. 1 seeds if they fall in their conference tournament.
There are also a ton of around-.500 major conference teams trying to sneak into this bracket. There is no requirement that teams finish .500 for the season — the NIT removed it a few years ago. But the NIT selection committee has never crossed the rubicon. They’ve come quite close. Last season two teams made it at exactly .500 and two more were just two games over. A lot of teams are pushing that boundary this season, including Georgetown (15-16), Minnesota (14-16), Alabama (16-15), and TCU (16-15). I’ve excluded the Hoyas and Gophers from my NIT bracket because of their records. A run from either team in their conference tournaments would shake this bracket up in a hurry.
Figuring out where to slot in Northern Iowa, Furman and UNC Greensboro, who all lost in their conference tournaments, was also challenging. The Panthers will be in the NIT if they don’t get an NCAA at-large, but the Paladins and Spartans don’t have the same assurances after ETSU won the Southern Conference regular season title. For now, both are in my bracket, though in precarious positions.
This bracket will be continued to be updated on a regular basis. I’ll publish a final projection, with the official No. 1 seeds, around 7 p.m. on Selection Sunday.
Last 10 NCAA tournament: Indiana, Providence, Arizona St., Oklahoma, Wichita St., Texas, UCLA, Richmond, Xavier, Texas Tech
NIT Bracket (bubble teams in italics, automatic teams in bold):
8. San Francisco
4. St. John’s
3. Oklahoma St.
6. Oregon St.
7. Boise St.
1. North Carolina St.
4. South Carolina
3. Rhode Island
6. UNC Greensboro
2. Mississippi St.
5. Notre Dame
3. Saint Louis
8. Wright St.
2. Northern Iowa
Note: Clemson was dropped a seed line due to bracketing principals, which moved Furman up a seed line. Duquesne and San Francisco were both moved down a seed line for geography reasons, while UNC Greensboro and Harvard were moved up one.
Update (March 12): This is a full bracket refresh. The new teams into the field are Harvard (at-large), Colgate (automatic), Stanford (at-large). UCLA has been moved into the projected NCAA field.