Monday, February 21, 2022

Feb. 21 NIT Bracketology

Is the automatic bid apocalypse coming? Conference tournaments start in one week (yes, one week with the first round of the NEC Tournament) and fans of teams towards the bottom of this NIT bracket projection should be paying attention. Parity in smaller conferences along with analytics favorites not being the top ranked teams in their conference mean that we could see a lot of No. 1 seeds falling in 1-bid leagues.

The odds on T-Rank right now range from Vermont’s 86% chance of winning America East (a conference that does things right with home court advantage throughout) all the way down to Davidson having just a 16% chance of winning the Atlantic 10, which will be a bloodbath in Brooklyn. (Note: I’m assuming that Towson ultimately takes the CAA regular season title or the lowest odds would belong to UNCW at 6%.) The Wildcats and Catamounts are both interesting cases. If they were to get thrown into the at-large pool I doubt either would get selected (unfortunately), but they’d make for high NIT seeds. In Davidson’s case in particular it might not even matter in terms of NIT spots, considering its four closest competitors are in the bracket below. Still, any team below the five seed line in this bracket is certainly not safe and it should be a very interesting three weeks until Selection Sunday.

Last 4 NCAA Tournament: Notre Dame, San Diego St., Indiana, SMU

(Also note that I gave the Missouri Valley Conference automatic bid to Loyola IL.)

NIT Bracket

(Bubble teams in italics, because of the automatic bids discussed above. I switched the seed lines for Missouri St. and Santa Clara for geographic convenience.)

1. North Carolina
8. Fresno St.
4. St. Bonaventure
5. St. John's
3. UAB
6. South Carolina
2. Virginia Tech
7. Ohio (I like Ohio's profile, but I don't think the committee will.)

1. Memphis
8. Florida St.
4. Mississippi St.
5. Saint Louis
3. Virginia
6. Vanderbilt
2. VCU
7. Washington St.

1. Florida
8. Missouri St.
4. New Mexico St.
5. Stanford
3. Oklahoma
2. Oregon
7. Santa Clara

1. Dayton
8. UCF
4. West Virginia
5. Utah St.
3. Kansas St.
6. Colorado
2. Belmont
7. Texas A&M

Not projected to be .500: Penn St., Maryland, Minnesota, Butler, DePaul, Clemson, Northwestern

The .500 "requirement" (it doesn't technically exist anymore, but it still is in practice) also makes the presence of West Virginia (16-15 in regular season per KenPom), Kansas St. (15-15), Oklahoma (16-15), Stanford (16-14), Florida St. (16-14), and Vanderbilt (16-14) in this bracket rather tenuous. There's still a lot of basketball left in power conferences.

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