NIT Bracketology: Dec. 1 Edition

Considering we’re still only three weeks into the season, projecting an NIT bracket remains a fool’s errand. At least now we have some semblance of an idea about how a team is going to perform. (Along with a tiny track record representing between a third to a tenth of a total schedule.)

And there have been some major changes. For one, Northwestern, which was projected by most to make the NCAA Tournament at the beginning of the season, has fallen all the way to out of the NIT projection. I use end-of-season projections for these brackets (from T-Rank, RPI Forecast and others) and none of them like the Wildcats at the moment. RPI Forecast has Northwestern finishing around 115th in RPI with just four top 100 RPI victories. That’s not getting it done. T-Rank doesn’t have Northwestern as one of its 24 teams on the bubble.

One area team that is rising is Albany. The Great Danes look like the second strongest team in America East. While that’s not typically a profile that garners NIT consideration, the league is stronger than it has been in the past and Albany has already banked useful wins over Iona and Yale. The Great Danes though would most likely need to win at Memphis to have a serious chance at contending for an NIT berth.

St. John’s has also moved from deep in my preseason NIT bracket to the NCAA Tournament field in this latest iteration. The Red Storm were my last team into the Big Dance. That does not leave much margin for error, but an at-large berth is certainly a possibility after starting the season 6-1, even if the schedule was soft. The path for St. John’s is a dominant non-conference performance (taking at most one more loss) and then getting some marquee victories (most likely at home) in the Big East.

This month is a big one. The non-conference games will continue to solidify the RPI of each team inside the power conferences, which then determines how many potential quality wins and bad losses exist in conference play (and sadly that’s how these berths are decided still). So keep an eye out for many more changes when the next bracket comes out on January 1, 2018.

Last 8 Into NCAA Tournament (In Order): Temple, Arizona St., Auburn, Maryland, Oklahoma, Florida St., Utah, St. John’s

NIT Bracket (bubble teams in italics):

1. Clemson
8. Albany
4. Butler
3. Northern Iowa
6. North Carolina St.
2. Michigan
7. Houston

1. South Carolina
8. Georgia Southern
4. Middle Tennessee
5. St. Bonaventure
3. Penn St.
6. Western Kentucky
2. Syracuse
7. Davidson

1. San Diego St.
8. Loyola (IL)
4. Oklahoma St.
5. Connecticut
3. Colorado
6. Mississippi
2. Saint Mary’s
7. Washington St.

1. Wisconsin
8. Towson
4. Boise St.
5. Iowa St.
3. Kansas St.
6. BYU
2. Marquette
7. Missouri St.

Others considered: VCU, Northwestern, Ohio St., Illinois, UCF, Dayton, Wyoming, Fresno St., Louisiana Tech, Saint Joseph’s, Mississippi St., La Salle, Iowa, Georgetown, Georgia Tech

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