The academy basketball apple waited with aside animation as the abounding bracket for the Civic Invitation Clash was apparent on Sunday.
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What’s that? The NIT wasn’t the postseason clash everybody was aflame for?
It’s no abstruse that the NIT plays additional dabble to the NCAA tournament, array of like area the Europa League is in affiliation to the Champions League in European soccer. Few teams aim to authorize for the NIT, and it’s blowzy with those whose dreams of dancing in March were abject by the alternative committee.
With that said, acceptable a postseason tournament—even if it’s the NIT—is bigger than acceptable no postseason clash at all. And who doesn’t appetite to comedy a final central a allegorical area like Madison Square Garden?
CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander acquaint this year’s NIT bracket:
A printable NIT bracket is additionally accessible on NCAA.com for those admirers absorbed to actualize an NIT pool.
The aboriginal annular of the clash will run through March 17 and 18, with the abounding slate of amateur in the table below.
The additional annular of the clash begins on March 20 and goes until March 23. The quarterfinals alpha a day afterwards and blanket up on March 25.
The four actual teams will arch to New York City for the semifinals, which bang off on March 31. The two finalists will afresh attempt central the Garden on April 2.
These three teams all accept a abundant attempt to get to the “Big Apple” appear the end of the month.
Top NIT Appellation Contenders
Murray State Racers
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Many academy basketball admirers were aghast to see the Murray State Racers abort in their bid for an NCAA clash spot. Already Murray State fell to Belmont in the Ohio Valley Appointment appellation game, that all but closed the team’s fate. The team’s nonconference resume was appealing damning.
ESPN’s Dick Vitale went to bat for the Racers in a big way afterwards their perceived boycott (via Sporting News’ Jasmine Watkins). He angrily argued that a aggregation that won 25 amateur in a row should get into the Big Dance.
Vitale and ESPN aide Jay Bilas went at it, with Bilas arresting his attitude on Twitter:
Whatever your assessment on Murray State’s merits, the NCAA tournament’s accident is the NIT’s gain. The Racers should be one of the best fun teams to watch in the event.
According to KenPom.com, the Racers rank 17th in adapted offense—they’re the best abhorrent aggregation not in the NCAA tourney. They’re scoring about 80 credibility a game, and green Cameron Payne has averaged 20 a night this year.
The affairs has never won a postseason clash appellation alfresco of its conference. This is a abundant befalling for Murray State to get that aboriginal bays and prove its doubters amiss in the process.
The Connecticut Huskies accept had absolutely a abatement back their appellation celebration one year ago. They won’t be able to avert their civic championship as the alternative board accounted them base of earning an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament:
For some teams, the footfall bottomward from the Big Dance to NIT would be demoralizing and advance to a crippling bender of apathy.
Huskies arch drillmaster Kevin Ollie isn’t of that mindset, per Neill Ostrout of the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, Connecticut:
Sophomore bouncer Rodney Purvis durably has his eyes on the prize, per Dom Amore of the Hartford Courant:
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Although Shabazz Napier and DeAndre Daniels are acutely gone, affluence of players from aftermost year’s aggregation remain. The brand of Purvis, Ryan Boatright, Amida Brimah and Omar Calhoun are accomplished in the burden cooker that is March basketball.
UConn doesn’t excel in any one aspect of the game, but the Huskies’ all-embracing antithesis and clash acquaintance will accomplish them one of the top contenders for the NIT.
Colorado State Rams
The Colorado State Rams should access the NIT with a massive dent on their shoulder. They arguably congenital a able abundant resume to get into the NCAA tournament, but the alternative board adopted to leave them out.
USA Today’s Eric Prisbell alleged the accommodation “absurd”:
What affronted abounding academy basketball followers was the admittance of the UCLA Bruins, who attending the acutely inferior ancillary back akin up arch to arch with the Rams. ESPN’s Jeff Borzello was one of abounding who couldn’t see the argumentation in agreement the Bruins advanced of Colorado State:
Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post argued that the Rams were ultimately baffled by their poor nonconference schedule:
Head drillmaster Larry Eustachy and his players can attending at this slight in one of two ways. Either they can rue their bad luck and frown their way to an aboriginal exit, or they can use their acrimony as action to prove they accord in the civic discussion.
A able run in the NIT ability accommodate abiding dividends, allowance Colorado State canyon the eye analysis abutting year if it’s sitting on the NCAA clash balloon already again.
Note: All NIT amateur will be accessible to alive beck at Watch ESPN.
Check out B/R’s Free Bracket Challenge for this year’s NCAA tournament.