Saturday, March 11, 2023

March 11, 8 AM Bracket Notes

Two results from late last night affected the NIT bracket. The easier one is that Utah Valley lost in the WAC semifinals after a late comeback by Southern Utah. That hands the Wolverines an automatic bid to the NIT as the WAC champion. (Sam Houston St. also lost yesterday, so the WAC did no favors to NIT bubble teams this season.) UVU's automatic bid eliminated Wake Forest's at-large spot.

The second result was Vanderbilt's win over Kentucky. At this point it feels like to me that Vanderbilt has done enough to make the NCAA Tournament. Jerry Stackhouse's team is 10-1 in its last 11 games and has now beaten Kentucky on the road and on a neutral court. Similar resumes to Vanderbilt's are often selected to the NCAA Tournament. The conundrum for me was which team to bump. I ultimately decided to once again send Rutgers down to the NIT. I could honestly see the committee going either direction on the Scarlet Knights. Other teams I considered bumping: NC State, Arizona St., Oklahoma St. and Providence. All of those teams feel like true "bubble" teams to me at this point.

I am going to do a full scrub of the NIT bracket later today, so there may be some movement. Every team currently in the bracket, with the exception of UAB, is now done playing. So we should be getting closer to our final product, with the exception of the automatic bids.

We should also see the end of the automatic bid parade (almost). Of the seven 1-bid league champions teams remaining, five play in their league title games today. (VCU and Yale are in the A-10 and Ivy League semifinals respectively.) This means two things: These are the hardest games in most cases (except Iona, which is playing Marist in the MAAC final) and this is it. If the No. 1 seeds win those games they'll be in the NCAA Tournament and not the NIT.

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