NIT Bracketology: Feb. 17

There is no more perplexing team in this week’s NIT Bracketology than the Georgia Bulldogs. CBS’ team comparison tool breaks down conference and non-conference RPI and Mark Fox’s team had the 216th RPI during non-conference games and current is 8-4 in the SEC with the 31st RPI during conference play. It’s mind-boggling.

NIT logoOf course, it isn’t just a case of a switch going on because as recently as two weeks ago on Feb. 1 the Bulldogs lost to Auburn. KenPom thinks that UGA is the 98th best team in the country, behind a number of teams that aren’t represented in this bracket – mostly of the mid-major variety.

The other thing that I’ve noticed while going through NIT bracketology recently is how hard it is for mid-majors to get real shots to put together a strong resume. Manhattan probably won’t win the MAAC regular season title – Iona has that almost locked up – but the Jaspers are a really talented team that KenPom thinks is the 73rd best team in the nation. Except who have the Jaspers beaten to prove that point? Manhattan’s best win is 99-90 over La Salle in overtime on the day the season opened. The Jaspers have two questionable losses: home for Fordham and at Fairfield, but are 19-6 overall. If they were to win their final four games in the MAAC, which is certainly possible I think Steve Masiello’s team would definitely deserve an NIT spot if they failed to win the MAAC tournament, but I have no idea how to seed them.

Two other teams that might not be quite as good but fall into similar buckets? Eastern Michigan and Middle Tennessee. EMU might fall victim to the fact that there are probably six MAC teams that should be playing postseason basketball (Akron, Ohio, Buffalo, Toledo, Western Michigan, and Eastern Michigan) and some of the others have better records and results. Ohio beat EMU head-to-head in MAC play earlier this season, which is why I have the Bobcats in the NIT field. The Eagles’ loss to Miami (OH) also sticks out like a sore thumb right now. My point though is expect a MAC team or two to appear in the NIT bracket come Selection Sunday.

One other particularly noteworthy piece of this bracket? Just two weeks ago in this space I had Northwestern as a four seed. Now the Wildcats aren’t in the bracket. Why? Well since that time NU has lost three straight and dropped two games below .500 overall. The Wildcats really need to beat Nebraska on Feb. 8 to hold any realistic shot of finishing the regular season above .500. While the NIT isn’t required to take teams that have more wins than losses, considering the parity in the field, I doubt the committee would give the Wildcats a bid. Maybe they’d like to play in the CBI? Two other Big Ten teams – Penn State and Illinois – are likely looking at a similar fate.

I tried to follow all bracketing procedures for the teams that made it into my seed list. This will probably get much easier when I don’t have three Pac-12 teams around the five and six seed lines. Washington and Utah were both dropped one line from their true seeds to create good regional balance. St. John’s and BYU were switched for balance as well, which I’m not sure is technically possible since one seeds are selected first during bracketing. Two western regionals just seemed logistically impossible.

The Bubblers in NCAA tournament: SMU, Richmond, Providence, Saint Joseph’s, Xavier, Baylor, Tennessee

NIT Bracketology:

1. Oregon (Pac-12)
8. UNLV (Mountain West)
4. Boise State (Mountain West)
5. Saint Mary’s (West Coast)
3. Marquette (Big East)
6. Texas Tech (Big 12)
2. BYU (West Coast)
7. Utah (Pac-12)

1. Dayton (Atlantic 10)
8. Wyoming (Mountain West)
4. Clemson (ACC)
5. Purdue (Big Ten)
3. Nebraska (Big Ten)
6. Washington (Pac-12)
2. Arkansas (SEC)
7. Wake Forest (ACC)

1. Georgetown (Big East)
8. Indiana St. (Missouri Valley)
4. Mississippi (SEC)
5. Ohio (MAC)
3. LSU (SEC)
6. Oregon State (Pac-12)
2. Florida St. (ACC)
7. St. Bonaventure (Atlantic 10)

1. St. John’s (Big East)
8. Manhattan (MAAC)
4. N.C. State (ACC)
5. Indiana (Big Ten)
3. Southern Miss (C-USA)
6. Georgia (SEC)
2. West Virginia (Big 12)
7. Maryland (ACC)

Other teams that were considered: Northwestern, Vanderbilt, Illinois, Notre Dame, Penn St., Middle Tennessee, Utah St., UTEP, Eastern Michigan, Akron, Cleveland St., San Francisco, Missouri St.

Note: NIT brackets are now released on a weekly cadence. The Feb. 24 update is released.

19 thoughts on “NIT Bracketology: Feb. 17

  1. Great article. Love that we are perplexing after the bad start. This team had to figure out how to play without Kentavious Caldwell Pope. They have done that and are playing really good team basketball. A win at Tennessee Tuesday night would be huge.


    1. Winning Thursday at home against Saint Mary’s would help a lot. USF’s profile is light on bad losses (3), but also extremely light on good wins (1 – Cleveland St. bounces between Top 100 and not). Beating Saint Mary’s might not be enough, but it would definitely get the Dons closer.


  2. Yeah I agree with you… Our RPI is pretty solid bouncing between the 80’s and 90’s but 0-7 against the top 100 won’t get it done. If we won the remaining 4 games do you think that would put us in?


  3. Good stuff. Do you take into account the teams like Robert Morris who may win their conference regular season title, but may not win the conference tournament and are given a spot in the NIT? Obviously that is impossible to predict.

    Also, doing a CIT projection would be pretty cool.


    1. I will start taking them into account as soon as they start losing. There will be typically be 8-10 of them (at least there have been in past seasons), which means that teams on the 7-8 seed lines really aren’t safe. Of course some of the major conference teams could still drop below .500 and that would probably exclude them from the conversation. It’s what makes this a little tricky.


  4. Assuming a 1-1 stint in the A-10’s, can St. Bonaventure get in with a 17-13 regular season, and in an average year, how many automatic bids are given out to regular season champs who miss the NCAA?


    1. SBU is going to be really close. Finishing .500 in A-10 play appears to be doable and if they did that I’d expect the Bonnies to be in pretty good position for a bid. Especially because that would mean beating either Saint Joseph’s, VCU or La Salle – all of which would be considered another quality victory. A 19-13 or 18-14 SBU team is certainly in the conversation for the NIT. In terms of the second question: Expect 8-10 bids to go to auto-bids of conference champions. Not all of those will be on the bottom seed lines. For instance, if Toledo were to lose in the MAC tournament they’d get an automatic NIT bid, but they’d be in 3/4 seed range instead of 7/8.


    1. I know I’m in the minority on this, but I really don’t understand why people like ISU’s profile right now. The Sycamores have 1 top 100 in 5 tries and 11 wins against RPI 200+ teams. (And a loss.) The Valley is down this season with Creighton not there. Even KenPom suggests that ISU is 87th nationally. Indiana and Purdue have beaten good teams, they just play in a much harder conference. I expect the Sycamores to make the NIT if they finish strong, but they’re not an NCAA bubble team and a 5/6 seed is probably where they’ll ultimately end up when some of the power conference teams fall out.


  5. How is UNLV an 8 seed in the NIT and Wyoming is an 8 also? Also UNLV has a better record than Boise St, and they are a 4 seed? LOL this is a joke.


    1. Well, this bracket is three weeks old. Please follow one of he newer links. I would also note that Boise State probably has a slightly better profile overall than UNLV right now. They both have one good win over New Mexico, one other Top 100 win, split head-to-head and UNLV has worse losses in general.


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