Saturday, March 4, 2023

March 4, 2:45 pm NIT Bracket Notes

Before I get to the latest on the NIT bracket, I want to address a few housekeeping issues. The first is that after thinking things through I've come to realize that posting a new bracket in a post every time I make a change is a terrible user experience. (Can't believe no one told me this!) Thus, moving forward I'm going to be updating the bracket on my Current NIT Bracket page and putting the relevant notes in these posts. I would recommend you link to that bracket (unless you find something I say interesting). I can't believe it took me this long to come to that conclusion.

The second housekeeping issue is that even though Sam Houston St. is the No. 1 seed in the WAC tournament, Utah Valley is the conference's regular season champion and holder of the magic ticket to the NIT if it needs it. This is important because UVU is a more "bubbly" team where the NIT is concerned versus SHSU (which I would expect to get an at-large anyways). The reason SHSU is the No. 1 seed in the tournament is because of WACPts, which is a metric designed to reward good wins. Honestly, good for the WAC for trying something different, even if it was a bit confusing this morning. (NCAA spokesperson David Worlock confirmed on Twitter that UVU is the NIT automatic qualifier.)

Alright, now for the changes!

Southern Miss enters the bracket as the automatic bid recipient from the Sun Belt. The Golden Eagles were 83rd in NET prior to this game (though they lost by 17) and have good wins against current projected NIT field companions Vanderbilt and Liberty. While I expect Southern Miss will be on the road in the NIT, they'll be a dangerous opponent. Southern Miss's entrance means that Marshall (at least until tonight) is presumed to be the Sun Belt Conference's automatic NCAA bid and thus I've removed them from the NIT bracket.

New Mexico lost last night at Colorado State. Undefeated until Jan. 3, the Lobos are now 3-7 in their last 10 games, mostly due to bad luck in close games. Still, they've played themselves out of a potential NCAA bid and right into the sweet spot of NIT selection. If UNM flames out early in the MWC tourney they could even be on the road in the NIT. I have them as the first four seed in my current seed list as action plays out today.

Saint Louis beat Dayton at home last night, 65-61. The Billikens are a funny team. Their NET has been hanging around 100 for awhile now (they were 103rd coming into today), but they're 60th in KPI and 86th in SOR (the two "resume" team sheet metrics). Ultimately neither of those will probably be enough to get Saint Louis into the NIT once automatic bids are handed out, but it's an interesting dichotomy.

There is a ton more action today. So I expect this isn't the last time I'll update this bracket today. For instance, Seton Hall has already secured a huge win at Providence that gives the Pirates another Q1 win and a 17-14 overall record heading to Madison Square Garden. While SHU is banged up, they look likely to play in the NIT in Shaheen Holloway's first season on the bench.

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