It’s Time to Overhaul the NIT

by Matt Fischer

How many NIT Final Four teams can you name?  I’ll bet you couldn’t get all four.  Probably couldn’t even get one without Google.  The NIT has lost its luster and needs an overhaul.

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Here’s my four point plan to improve the NIT:

  • Focus on Preseason
  • Give the Mid Majors Opportunity
  • Eliminate the First Four of the NCAA Tournament
  • 16 Teams Build Their Postseason Resume

Focus on the Preseason

The NIT needs to cede the postseason to the NCAA.  The NCAA Tournament is the king of college basketball. 

The NIT should focus on the preseason with a 16 team tournament that invites one team from 16 difference conferences.  This will improve attendance as these games will matter.  Attendance dwindles at most of these postseason NIT Games.

The Preseason NIT will welcome teams to four pods similar to what the NCAA Tournament does.  These will be neutral site games held close the highest four seeds of the NIT.

Opportunity for Mid-Majors

Mid-Majors often complain they can’t get a game schedule with a team from a major conference.  Problem solved Mid-Majors!  You’ll get a shot at the power conferences in this new NIT at a neutral site nonetheless.

The top 16 conferences, based upon the SportsFormulator College Basketball Power Rankings, would be invited to the Preseason NIT.

Eliminate the First Four of the NCAA Tournament

The First Four is stupid.  It’s ridiculous to have a 68 team tournament.  The 64 team NCAA Tournament is the world’s greatest sporting event.  Stop ruining it with these “First Four” games. 

The First Four is over.  In my new plan for the NIT, the last four at-large teams that would have played in the First Four now are automatic invites to the Preseason National Invitation Tournament the following year giving them the chance to bolster their resume for the postseason.

16 Teams Build Their Postseason Resume

This tournament assures each team two games against good teams.  The teams are sent to four pods to play doubleheaders on a weekend.  The winners of the two first games at a NIT site will play one another for the right to advance to the Preseason NIT Final Four in New York City.

The losers will play the next day to get another chance to get a quality win in the non-conference.

The postseason NIT needs to end.  Nobody is interested in it while the NCAA Tournament is going.  Revamp the NIT to add more early season excitement to college basketball.

Improve the NIT College Basketball Tournament

2019 Preseason NIT College Basketball Tournament

A few caveats for this tournament, I’ve taken the at-large teams from the 2019 First Four of the NCAA Tournament and the four top seeds of the 2019 Postseason NIT as “automatic” bids for their conferences to the Preseason NIT.

The remaining eight teams were selected as they were either the regular season champs in their conference but failed to make the NCAA Tournament or won their conference tournament to get in but not their conference regular season.

To encourage attendance, we’d put these first and second round games in four spots, Indianapolis, Dallas, Charlotte and Phoenix.  Playing in NBA arenas, this will give these early games a tournament feel.

Indianapolis First Round

Indiana (Big Ten) vs. Drake (Missouri Valley)

St. John’s (Big East) vs. Yale (Ivy)

Dallas First Round

TCU (Big 12) vs. Old Dominion (Conference USA)

Buffalo  (MAC) vs. Temple (AAC)

Charlotte First Round

Clemson (ACC) vs. Greensboro (Southern)

Alabama (SEC) vs. VCU (Atlantic 10)

Phoenix First Round

Arizona State (Pac-12) vs. New Mexico St. (WAC)

St. Mary’s (WCC) vs. Utah State (MWC)

The winners of each region would advance to the NIT Final Four in New York City.   Semi-final winners advance to the championship game while the losers will play for third place giving teams opportunity to improve their chances of making the 2020 NCAA Tournament.

This new direction would boost intrigue in the first month of college basketball with a Final Four Thanksgiving weekend.  Let’s talk NIT.  I’d be glad to help boost your tournament and make college basketball even better!

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