N. Texas beat Troy last night sending Troy to the NIT by winning the regular season. That leaves 28 NIT bids left. More later….
By winning 3 of our final 4 regular season games, Sidney Lowe put NC State back on the NIT bubble after a horrific middle stretch of conference play. When the NCAA purchased the NIT in 2005, the selection process was changed to mirror the process used by the NCAA Tournament selection committee. Before 2005, almost every major conference team with a .500+ record made the NIT so these programs could host home games to generate revenue with ticket sales. Many of us probably remember hosting NIT games in Reynolds during the early years of the Sendek era. To show you how different today’s NIT is compared to pre-2005, in Sidney Lowe’s first season we played Drexel in the 1st round on the road in a hostile environment:
While the students were certainly upset over being left out of the NCAAs, it sure didn’t douse their enthusiasm inside the cozy and steamy 2,700-seat Daskalakis Athletic Center. The DAC was rocking from the moment the fans were let in.
For major conference teams picked to finish near the bottom of their conference, making the NIT actually means something now. It is at least a step in the right direction as it is something that now has to be earned. The NIT attempts to select the 32 most deserving teams after the NCAA sets its field of 65. Like the NCAA handing out bids to conference tournament winners weakening the field of 64, the NIT also gives automatic bids to any conference regular season winner that doesn’t win their conference tournament. In most years, this has reduced the number of at-large bids by 5-8 spots making it even more difficult to make the NIT for major conference teams.
So far this year the following teams won their conference regular season title, but didn’t win their conference championship:
32. Stony Brook
31. Coastal Carolina
By not winning their conference tournaments, another team from their respective conferences took a spot in the NCAA that wouldn’t have made the post-season otherwise. So with these conferences going from 1 post-season team(an NCAA bid to the tourney winner), they now take up two post season spots with the regular season winner being guaranteed a spot in the NIT. So right now, only 29 bids for the NIT remain.
This site has NC State as the 29th team in the tournament which would make us the last team in the field as things stand right now. I have been tracking this website for a few years, so I have verified they do have a good handle on this process. As far as what other teams NC State fans should be pulling for this week, the site breaks it down nicely for us:
Over in the NIT, Stony Brook hogs another automatic bid, but it’s been mostly good news for NIT bubble hopefuls as the majority of 1 seeds are holding serve in one-bid leagues so far. Pending potential bid-stealers for you to root for: Weber St. (BSky), UCSB (BW), Kent St. (MAC), Morgan St. (MEAC), Quinnipiac (NEC), Lehigh (PAT), Sam Houston St. (Slnd), Oakland (SUM), Troy (SB), Jackson st. (SWAC), Utah St. (WAC). With 11 such situations in play, I’d expect to see something like 4 more bids disappearing by Selection Sunday.
If you want to follow these teams to give yourself another reason to watch Championship Week, then here is the schedule for each of these teams:
-Weber St. (Big Sky) – Semifinals vs. Portland St., 3/9 9 pm; Finals 3/10
-UCSB (Big West) – Semifinals vs. ????, 3/12
-Morgan St. (MEAC) – Quarterfinals vs. ???, 3/10 or 3/11
-Kent St (MAC) – Quarterfinals, 3/11 7 pm
-Quinnipiac (NEC) – Finals vs. Robert Morris, 3/10 7pm (these teams tied for regular season title)
-Lehigh (PAT) – Finals vs. Lafayette, 3/12 4:45 pm
-Sam Houston St.(Sland) – Quarterfinals vs Nichols St., 3/10 7 pm
-Oakland (Summit) – Finals vs. IUPUI, 3/9 9 pm
-Troy (SB) – Finals vs. N. Texas, 3/9 7 pm (these teams tied for regular season title)
-Jackson St. (SWAC) – Quarterfinals vs. Grambling, 3/10
-Utah St (WAC) – Quarterfinals vs. Boise St, 3/11 3 pm
Bold denotes games played today.
Most likely 2-5 of these teams will lose in their conference tournaments, so there is no doubt that NC State must win its first round ACC tournament game to make the NIT. Additionally, we want to pull for favorites in most/all of the other major conference tournaments. We don’t want a UVA, UNC, or BC (or the teams from other conferences on the NIT bubble) going on runs this weekend.
Either way, a win against a Clemson team with a strong RPI should make NC State almost a lock for an NIT bid.