The NIT is a single-elimination tournament, not unlike the Big Dance. The field has 32 teams, divided cleanly into four quadrants of eight teams apiece. The first three rounds of the tournament take place at campus sites, with games hosted by the higher-seeded team. (No. 1 vs. 8, No. 2 vs. 7, and on and on.) The games move to Madison Square Garden in New York for the tournament semifinals on March 27 and the championship game on March 29.
The NIT gets made fun of, and that’s fine, but winning tournaments is good even if those tournaments aren’t the tournament. Playing well in the NIT can be a good way to start an offseason, and staying alive longer in the tournament means more opportunities for schools to make money. (NIT revenue is mostly pooled and then distributed to teams later.) The games aren’t a huge deal nationally, but they do count — including toward team records.
If you take a wider view, the NIT is one of the more prestigious postseason tournaments in college basketball. It’s a much bigger deal than the CBI and CIT. Anyway, it’s sports!
The bracket and schedule
All times here are Eastern. All games are on ESPN networks, which means you can stream them on WatchESPN, the network’s online platform.
The No. 1 seeds: Notre Dame, USC, Saint Mary’s, and Baylor. At least a couple of those teams had pretty good cases to make the NCAA tournament, but they’re here instead.
The basics to this schedule: The first round is March 13 and 14. The second round is March 16 and 19. The quarterfinals are March 20 and 21, and the tournament shifts to New York on March 27. All games are at night, and again, they’re all at campus sites until the semis.
No. 1 Saint Mary’s 89, No. 8 SE Louisiana 45
No. 1 Baylor 80, No. 8 Wagner 59
No. 2 Louisville 66, No. 7 Northern Kentucky 58
No. 4 Western Kentucky 79, No. 5 Boston College 62
No. 3 Middle Tennessee 91, No. 6 Vermont 64
No. 2 Oklahoma State 80, No. 7 Florida Gulf Coast 68
No. 1 Notre Dame 84, No. 8 Hampton 63
No. 3 Oregon 99, No. 6 Rider 86
No. 1 USC 103, No. 8 UNC Asheville 98