2013 NIT Bracketology: NIT Picks & Preview (FINAL UPDATE)

March 17th, 2013 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist)
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NIT LogoThe NIT schedule is only a week away from being released, and here at Bankroll Sports, we are taking another look at our NIT Bracketology picks for how we think that the field of 32 could look. We’ll be keeping this updated regularly, and now that we are in the week of the NCAA Tournament, we’ll be updating with every passing result that could change the way that the 2013 NIT Tournament could look.

Before we begin, here’s how the NIT works. There are 32 teams that make it into the field, and before there are any other teams that are put into place, any team that won its conference regular season crown but didn’t make it into the NCAA Tournament gets an automatic spot.

List of Teams With Automatic Bids To NIT
Stony Brook Seawolves (America East)
Mercer Bears (Atlantic Sun)
Charleston Southern Buccaneers (Big South)
Long Beach State 49ers (Big West)
Northeastern Huskies (Colonial)
Norfolk State Spartans (MEAC)
Niagara Purple Eagles (Metro Atlantic)
Robert Morris Colonials (Northeast)
Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (Southland)
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (WAC)

*Note: Middle Tennessee State also has a guaranteed spot in the NIT if it doesn’t make the NCAA Tournament, though for now, we have the Blue Raiders in the field

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There are going to be 22 at large bids to the NIT that are up for grabs after 10 top seeds fell in their conference tournaments over the course of the last two weeks. The Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders would be automatic qualifiers if they dropped into the NIT as well, but they would clearly fit the bill as an NIT team regardless of their conference affiliation.

NIT No. 1 Seeds: Kentucky Wildcats, Virginia Cavaliers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Tennessee Volunteers
NIT No. 2 Seeds: Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles, Maryland Terrapins, Alabama Crimson Tide, Stanford Cardinal
NIT No. 3 Seeds: Baylor Bears, Providence Friars, Xavier Musketeers, Florida State Seminoles
NIT No. 4 Seeds: Washington Huskies, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arkansas Razorbacks, Massachusetts Minutemen
NIT No. 5 Seeds: Indiana State Sycamores, Charlotte 49ers, BYU Cougars, Air Force Falcons
NIT No. 6 Seeds: Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, St. John’s Red Storm, St. Joseph’s Hawks, Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks
NIT No. 7 Seeds: Robert Morris Colonials, Stony Brook Seawolves, Niagara Purple Eagles, Long Beach State 49ers
NIT No. 8 Seeds: Mercer Bears, Northeastern Huskies, Norfolk State Spartans, Charleston Southern Buccaneers

Atlantic 10
NIT Locks: Xavier Musketeers, Charlotte 49ers, Massachusetts Minutemen
NIT Bubble: St. Joseph’s Hawks, Richmond Spiders

There is now absolutely no doubt in our minds that Xavier, Charlotte, and UMass are going to be in the NIT. The Minutemen had to think they could get the job done, but losing to VCU on Saturday was the end of their chances of dancing. Beyond that though, the Hawks and the Spiders are going to be hoping not to see any more upsets in conference tournaments. Many think that the Hawks are okay, but Richmond really is practically dead at this point. All of those technical fouls proved to be killers, not only for any hopes of advancing in the A-10 Tournament, but for making it into the NIT as well.

ACC
NIT Locks: Maryland Terrapins, Virginia Cavaliers, Florida State Seminoles
NIT Bubble: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Florida State got into the NIT for sure when it held on to beat Clemson. It didn’t help its case when it was beaten by North Carolina badly in the second half on Friday, but we still don’t see any way that the garnet and gold aren’t in the NIT. Georgia Tech is still hanging on, but the chances are looking grim at best. The Jackets really needed the NIT bubble to stay large, but it keeps getting tighter and tighter, and they’re probably amongst the ones getting squeezed out. Maryland did the job that it needed to do on Friday by beating Duke, but it couldn’t get the job done by beating North Carolina. The Terrapins aren’t quite going to be good enough to dance, but they’ll be a home team in the first at least two rounds in the NIT.

Big 12
NIT Locks: Baylor Bears
NIT Bubble: None

Baylor has probably lost out on its chances to get into the NCAA Tournament after losing to Oklahoma State on Thursday. That certainly leaves the Bears in the NIT. As far as Texas is concerned, it was beaten badly by Kansas State and really can’t be considered for the NIT any longer.

Big East
NIT Locks: Providence Friars
NIT Bubble: St. John’s Red Storm

We’ll start this discussion by saying that Big East teams that have a good enough record to get into the NIT usually do. That means that St. John’s really should have nothing to worry about in spite of the fact that we have it as one of the last few at large teams getting in. The Johnnies gave the NIT Selection Committee a reason to not put them in the NIT by playing pitiful basketball down the stretch. Put them in a different conference, and we would have a different discussion. But in the Big East, especially for the team that plays its home games at the home of the Final Four, Madison Square Garden? It’s just not likely to see St. John’s left off the line. Providence has done enough, plain and simple.

Big Sky
NIT Locks: None
NIT Bubble: Weber State Wildcats

The Wildcats finished out the season in the most predictable way possible. They only suffered six defeats on the campaign, but that sixth loss came to Montana in crushing fashion on the road. Many think that this is an NIT team. We aren’t all that sure. Weber State is going to have to convince the NIT Selection Committee that it has a better resume than perhaps an Atlantic 10 team with not quite the same type of resume, and we just don’t know if that truly could be the case. It seems like the Wildcats are off to the CBI or the CIT if they want to continue playing in the second season.

Big 10
NIT Locks: Iowa Hawkeyes
NIT Bubble: None

We feel really bad for Head Coach Fran McCaffery and the gang. The Hawkeyes were one of the best 37 at large teams in the nation as we saw it this year, but they scheduled so poorly in the non-conference season that there was no way to justify putting them in the dance. They’ll be here in the NIT and get at least two, if not three home games as long as they keep winning as their reward for a solid season, though. Not a terrible consolation prize for a team that is still a step or two shy of competing with the big boys in the Big Ten.

Conference USA
NIT Locks: Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles
NIT Bubble: None

The Golden Eagles did everything that they could to get into the bracket, but they just weren’t able to get the job done when push came to shove. They haven’t beaten any of the Top 50 RPI teams this year, and we would be shocked if they get the nod into the dance as a result. Southern Miss will earn some home games here in the NIT though, and it will have to play every bit as well as it did for the first 50 minutes against the Tigers on Saturday to continue to advance against some of the next best teams in the game.

Horizon League
NIT Locks: None
NIT Bubble: Detroit Titans

Detroit is still in the discussion, but that discussion is really starting to get bleaker and bleaker. The Titans would have probably been on the No. 7 line or so had the field stayed at 32, but alas, now that that number is down to 22 with no more games to help out the resume, it’s going to be virtually impossible to get into the NIT.

MAC
NIT Locks: None
NIT Bubble: Ohio Bobcats

Poor Ohio. The team was favored to take down the MAC crown, and it really had to figure that it had Akron dead to rights coming into Saturday’s MAC Championship Game. However, it was Akron that really stepped up to the plate to claim the league title, and in the end, Ohio is right there on the NIT cut line as we see it. This is another one of these teams like Weber State that has a pretty good record, but not quite the same type of resume as a team like BYU or St. Joe’s. The Bobcats seem to be headed to the CBI or the CIT this season.

Missouri Valley Conference
NIT Locks: None
NIT Bubble: Indiana State Sycamores, Northern Iowa Panthers

Indiana State and Northern Iowa are both vexing cases to get into the NIT. The Sycamores had to think that they were going to contend for a spot in the NCAA Tournament until getting beaten prematurely in the Missouri Valley Tournament. Now, some think that they are going to miss out on the NIT as well. We tend to think otherwise. The Sycamores should be in this field. The window is closing quickly on Northern Iowa, and there just don’t seem to be enough bids left to this tourney to put the Panthers in.

Mountain West
NIT Locks: Air Force Falcons
NIT Bubble: None

Air Force dodged a few bullets, just like so many of the other teams that were hoping to get into the NIT on Saturday. Only one of the four potential bids to the NIT were stolen, and as a result, there are still enough bids that are left to think that the Falcons are a lock to be in the nation’s secondary postseason tournament. The Mountain West was too good this year to ignore, and we have to think that a team that beat some of the best teams in the conference would be deserving a slot in at least the NIT.

Ohio Valley
NIT Locks: None
NIT Bubble: Murray State Racers

Murray State is still praying that it gets the call from the NIT Selection Committee on Selection Sunday, but it really isn’t looking good at this point. That’s too bad for Murray State fans, as this team came so close to winning the Ohio Valley, and now, it probably won’t get a chance to see its team play again this year unless there is a change of heart to go to the CBI (or perhaps the CIT).

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Pac-12
NIT Locks: Stanford Cardinal, Washington Huskies, Arizona State Sun Devils
NIT Bubble: None

This is a cut and dry conference at this point. Some think that U-Dub isn’t going to get into the NIT, but after last year when the team made a great run to the Final Four at MSG, we just can’t see it happening. The Huskies played well down the stretch, they’re 18-15, they have a respectable RPI, and they only lost in overtime to Oregon in the Pac-12 quarterfinals. This is a good enough team to play in the second season.

SEC
NIT Locks: Tennessee Volunteers, Alabama Crimson Tide, Arkansas Razorbacks, Kentucky Wildcats
NIT Bubble: LSU Tigers

It really seems as though the SEC is going to have to go through the pain of having at least four teams in the NIT this year. Tennessee and Arkansas both played themselves out of the NCAA Tournament, and Kentucky probably ultimately did so as well. The Rebels were in the NIT as we saw it at the start of the day, but after they knocked off Vanderbilt on Saturday, they are in the dance. The team dropping in is Kentucky. The Wildcats were crushed by Vandy in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament, and they really don’t deserve to get into the field of 68 as a result. On the other side of the NIT bubble, LSU remains at least in consideration. Vandy fell off of the NIT line after getting beaten by Alabama, but the CBI could be in the cards for the Commodores as well after such a nice run into the SEC semifinals.

West Coast Conference
NIT Locks: BYU Cougars
NIT Bubble: None

We have seen enough other projections for the NIT to know that BYU is probably safe and sound. Though we think based upon merit, there is no way that the Cougs should be safe, nor should they be hosting a game, but this is a tournament that is all about revenue. There will at least have to be a possibility that the Cougars can pack the Marriott Center at least one more time this year. Don’t be shocked if BYU ends up on the No. 4 line to get that home game even though we’re not even 100% sure that it deserves to be in the NIT field after losing to San Diego in the WCC Tournament.

WAC
NIT Locks: None
NIT Bubble: Denver Pioneers, Utah State Aggies

Gulp. The WAC is going to have its one team in the NIT for sure… Louisiana Tech is going to fall into the NIT as an automatic qualifier. But what happened to Denver and Utah State? Both lost to subpar teams in the WAC Tournament, and now, they’re at the mercy of the NIT Selection Committee. It’s not looking good for either one with only 22 slots up for grabs right now.


Posted in NCAA Basketball on Sunday, March 17th, 2013 at 3:00 pm (EST)
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