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The NIT made changes that nobody asked for

Conference regular season champs who lose in league tourneys will no longer get auto bids. Now, P6 schools get preferential treatment.

NCAA Basketball: NIT Semifinals-Utah Valley at UAB Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

The NIT Board announced a decision Friday that is well warranted of the term, Friday News Dump. The board dropped a press release detailing changes for the 2024 edition of the postseason tournament that impact how teams will qualify.

Previously, as of 2017, conference regular season champs who didn’t win their league tournament — regardless of league — would receive an automatic invite to the NIT. This led to some awesome mid-major runs like 2023’s North Texas run — which it won over fellow Conference USA team UAB. Even the previous selection process that involved ESPN led to classics like Robert Morris over Kentucky in 2013, and other mid-major NIT champs like Dayton (2010), Wichita State (2011) and George Washington (2016) within the past 15 years.

But now, the league is going in a new direction. Read this, direct from the press release on the NCAA’s own website:

For the 2024 NIT, conference regular season champions that do not win their conference tournament or are not otherwise selected to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship will not receive an automatic bid to the NIT. Instead, the NIT will guarantee two teams (based on the NET rankings) from each of six conferences (Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern).

The top two teams in the NET rankings not qualifying for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament from each conference, regardless of won-loss record, will be selected. Additionally, the 12 teams automatically selected will be guaranteed the opportunity to host a game in the first round of the NIT.

Once the 12 automatic qualifying schools have been selected, the NIT Committee will select the 20 best teams available to complete the tournament’s 32-team field. Based on the NIT Committee’s evaluation, the best four teams of the 20 at-large teams selected will complete the 16 first round hosts, with deference given to the “first four teams out” of the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, as determined by the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball. Additional teams from the six conferences with AQs are eligible to be selected as at-large teams and can be selected as hosts.

No more auto bids for your favorite quirky mid-major team, instead tossed to the gluttonous and all-powerful “Power 6” conference teams that don’t make the NCAA Tournament.

Instead of watching a good Eastern Washington team beat Washington State, or Morehead State beating Clemson like we did in 2023, we run the risk that same terrible Pac-2 school play a 16-16 Florida team that has no business playing in the postseason.

Now, get ready for a .500 Big 12 school that lost to a Conference USA team get in over the Ohio Valley regular season champ. And a Big Ten school that scores 50 points per game (looking at you Wisconsin) will get in over a fast-paced team out of the Big West.

All of this to just appease the networks who want to turn college basketball into a college football knockoff. Possible the icing on top, just about everyone in the college basketball Twitter world, notably Jeff Goodman (see here) and Matt Norlander, have voiced their displeasure for this decision. Baffling decision all-around by the NIT.

In short, and in my biased opinion, the changes suck.

Shame on you, NIT Board.

Multiple league commissioners speak out

Three three mid-major league commissioners Tweeted or shared public statements hours after the decision by the NCAA/NIT Board.

Patriot League commissioner Jennifer Heppel: “Disappointing decision from NCAA. Denying any conference automatic access to any NCAA sponsored/managed championship is a slippery slope.”

MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher in a league tweet: “I was surprised and disappointed in the action announced today by the NIT Board of Managers, approximately one week prior to the start of the 2023-24 season. To make such a substantive change to the nit structure without providing a satisfactory explanation or building the foundation for such a change is troubling and leaves student-athletes, coaches, and fans in a state of uncertainty. Today’s announcement is leading me to focus even more on the discussion around the possible expansion of the NCAA Tournament and i will marshal our membership’s attention to that issue.”

Big Sky commissioner Tom Wistrcill when asked on Twitter if the decision this disproportionately affects the Big Sky: Yes.

Coaches have also commented and shared anonymously through our Twitter account. Be sure to read those comments.