If I had a Selection Sunday genie who could grant me three wishes related to the NIT bracket — well that would be really weird — but here are the three questions I would ask this season.
1) What is the committee going to do with the under .500 teams? If Florida‘s record wasn’t there the Gators would be your typical power conference NIT at-large. Billy Donovan’s team has won eight games against Top 100 RPI opponents and is ranked 70th in RPI, it’s of course also 16-17 overall. The committee chair has said in public interviews that he’d take an under .500 team if they warranted inclusion. It seems like this is the best argument to test such logic. That said, I still can’t bring myself to pull the trigger on it. Kansas State is in a similar situation. The Wildcats are 15-17, two games under .500!, but have six wins against teams in the Top 50 of the RPI thanks to playing in the brutal Big 12. Two games under .500 and an RPI over 100 makes me think that Bruce Weber’s team will be sitting at home this postseason.
2) Will the committee look at TCU’s wins, or how they played out in RPI? The Horned Frogs are another fascinating case. They have the 61st best “resume” according Jeff Sagarin’s ELO ranking, TCU also has the 132nd RPI. It would be by far the highest RPI to make the NIT in the past five years and it just seems highly unlikely to happen at this point, but… you never know. Other teams whose “resume” doesn’t match their RPI? Vanderbilt (72/104), Minnesota (69/97), and Arizona State (81/102). Right now I’ve got the Sun Devils in and the other ones out, mostly because I like ASU’s profile the best, but it’s super close.
3) Where are the mid-major regular season champions going to be seeded? This is the question bugging me about seeding. The NIT has typically favored traditional metrics for seeding purposes and thus when I look at the bracket it’s hard to put Murray State, Louisiana Tech, UC Davis, Iona or Central Michigan that high in the bracket. All though have some sort of case. Iona is 51st in RPI, and the Gaels want a home game. Murray State, while not an NCAA team, has a decent resume for an NIT team, as does Louisiana Tech. How the committee decides to seed those types of teams could really shake up the bracket.
The NIT Selection Show will be broadcast at 8:30 p.m. on ESPNU. So while I don’t have a genie, at least we’ll find out what’s up then.