Before I get into the actual bracket let me first concede that doing a projected NIT more than a month before the season actually starts is absolutely ridiculous. But since players are starting to practice, I figured I’d start practicing as well.
Thus I’ve put together a first pass at an NCAA tournament field and an NIT bracket (plus a whole host of other teams to watch). The NIT bracket is seeded merely to give you a sense of where teams sit in my perceived pecking order going into the season. Also note that we don’t know the actual number of automatic bids the NIT will give out from year to year. Expect though it will be at least 8 and as high as 12 if madness occurs (so seeds 6 through 8 aren’t safe). For now though here’s a bracket. It’s based completely on how I feel teams will perform this season thanks to offseason reading, returning possession minutes, and just a general feel for teams. Arguments welcome.
Projected NIT Bracket:
5. Rhode Island
1. Saint Mary’s
8. Kent St.
4. Northern Iowa
6. South Carolina
7. Boise St.
8. UC Santa Barbara
4. George Washington
5. Old Miss
2. Oklahoma St.
7. San Francisco
1. St. John’s
6. New Mexico
2. Florida St.
7. Seton Hall
NCAA tournament autos: Harvard, UC Irvine, Toledo, Cleveland St., Louisiana Tech, Iona, Holy Cross, Denver, Hofstra, Murray St., Georgia St., Coastal Carolina, New Mexico St., Northern Arizona, Vermont, FGCU, Robert Morris, Stephen F. Austin, NC Central, Texas Southern, Kansas, Wichita St., Arizona, SMU, Villanova, VCU, Gonzaga, Kentucky, Duke, San Diego St., Wisconsin, Wofford
NCAA tournament at-larges: Texas, Iowa St., Kansas St., Oklahoma, UCLA, Stanford, Utah, Connecticut, Memphis, Georgetown, Dayton, Richmond, Florida, Arkansas, Alabama, Louisville, North Carolina, Virginia, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Wyoming, UNLV, Michigan, Michigan St., Nebraskas, Ohio St., Indiana, Minnesota, Illinois, Baylor, Tulsa, BYU, West Virginia, Xavier, Cincinnati
Others considered for NIT: Long Beach St., Akron, Siena, High Point, Arizona St., Washington St., Temple, Providence, Illinois St., NC State, Miami (FL), Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Fresno St., Colorado St., Cal, Washington, Missouri, Creighton, La Salle, St. Bonaventure, George Mason, Saint Louis, Davidson, San Diego, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Northwestern, Purdue, Green Bay, Yale, Princeton, Indiana St., Southern Illinois, Missouri St., Portland, Manhattan
As you can see, a pretty comprehensive group of teams was considered during this project. A big thanks to Dan Hanner, whose previews were invaluable in forming a starting point for my research. I’m sure my projections don’t agree with everyone’s. Tulsa, Wyoming and a few other NCAA at-larges are probably too high. West Virginia might be that way. I have a soft spot for the Mountaineers after their work on the NIT bubble last season. There are also a number of local teams in my NIT bracket, but ultimately I think it represents a potential future — though of course not a likely one considering there are still hundreds of games to be played.
It’s great practice has started, but lets get to some real games soon!
5 thoughts on “Way Too Early NIT Projections”
I agree that it’s ridiculous to do this so early, but I must admit that I enjoyed reading the article. And I appreciate all the work/research that went into the article. Thanks.
Considering that either St. Francis Brooklyn (2) and Central Connecticut (1) were picked for the championship by the three pre-season national publications and that the NEC is always an annual dogfight, picking RMU for the NCAA could be considered a bit of a mild surprise. But not having SFC or CCSU in your list of others considered for the NIT was even more surprising. Don’t you think that either of these programs has the ability to record 20 wins?
Yeah, if I was to pick the NEC though right now I’d go Robert Morris. (Though the numbers say go St. Francis Brooklyn.) Either could be subbed in there. As for the second half of the question. While NEC teams can get to 20 wins, it’s hard to put together a resume that would attract an at-large berth to the NIT, especially considering the competition for those bids. Which is why I considered some of the NEC contenders, but ultimately left them out of the bracket. We’ll see though. Maybe someone will surprise during non-conference play. I just don’t see a “Top 100” team right now in the conference. That’s about what you need to get serious NIT at-large consideration.
A fair estimate, and would be great to see local teams like Seton Hall and Columbia advance, but I suspect many/most of the 7/8 seeds will be bounced by the automatic NIT bids for conference regular season winners who don’t win their conference tournaments and don’t go at large to the NCAA.
Definitely. Automatic bids typically fill at least the bottom two seed lines (sometimes a bit more). So teams that are on those lines in any projections are just holding down the last bubble spots in reality.