Well, I broke down and LSU is currently in the NCAA tournament bracket as one of the last at-large bids.
What I’m more interested in though as an NIT Bracketologist are the teams that are hanging right around .500 that could reach pretty high in the bracket. (I’m looking at you Georgetown, Georgia Tech and Arizona St.)
Those teams are hard to include and hard to seed because you just don’t know what going to happen by the end of the season. I’m using the best projections I can find to assume they’ll be above .500, but more spots could open up if they slip up a few too many times during the rest of conference play.
The other teams that are (always) hard to place? The mid-majors that will have great win totals and strong RPIs by the end of the season, but not necessarily quality wins. Obviously it’s harder to get Top 50 and Top 100 RPI wins as a mid-major, and the lack of opportunities is certainly considered, but you could see teams like Princeton, UC Irvine, Middle Tennessee, Hofstra and James Madison fall further down the bracket than RPI would suggest due to a lack of opportunities in conference play—though the CAA teams can beat up on each other and pick up Top 100 RPI victories.
It’s worth noting though that Hofstra actually did a bit to combat this during non-conference, as the wins over Florida St. and St. Bonaventure look better and better. That’s why the Pride are a five seed with Princeton even though Hofstra projects to have an RPI almost 20 places below the Tigers.
Last NCAA At-Large Bids (alphabetical order): Butler, George Washington, Gonzaga, LSU, South Carolina, Syracuse, Vanderbilt, Washington
Projected NIT Bracket:
Bubble teams because of automatic bids are in italics
Note: An astute reader pointed out that Oregon St. isn’t in this bracket. They should be. Most likely on the 1 or 2 seed line. The last team in was Albany. So the Great Danes would be pushed out if that was the case.
1. Kansas St.
4. Georgia Tech
5. William & Mary
3. Texas Tech
7. Ohio St.
8. James Madison
4. Arizona St.
5. Boise St.
7. Northern Iowa
7. UC Irvine
8. Rhode Island
2. St. Bonaventure
7. Middle Tennessee
Also considered: North Dakota St., Pepperdine, Duquesne, Mississippi, Tennessee Tech, Northwestern, New Mexico, UT Arlington, Siena
Not going to be .500 (but would’ve at least considered): Virginia Tech, N.C. State, Stanford, Penn St., Tennessee