Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Magic Week NIT Bracketology

It's the magical week where the AP Poll predicts the national champion! (Don't know what I'm talking about? Read John Gasaway's piece on ESPN+.) While I don't think an NIT bracket at this point is that predictive, we do know something about every team in the country at this point.

We can also start to see how the new selection rules for the NIT might play out. I'm currently using KenPom as an NET proxy. It appears that at least one power conference team is going to get pulled from quite far down the bracket and into a protected seed. The most likely candidate conference right now is the Big 12. Say 10 teams from the Big 12 make it into the NCAA Tournament. That would leave just four for the NIT to pick from, potentially including having to take one with a losing record. In this scenario it's UCF, which probably wouldn't be in the bracket except for their protected seed, that benefits. The Golden Knights are 76th in KenPom, so they're not a bad team, but they're also projected to go 15-15 on both KenPom and T-Rank.

It's also possible that the higher ranked NET team in a conference like the Big East won't have the best NIT resume. Xavier, for instance, is ranked higher than Butler and St. John's in KenPom right now (just Butler in T-Rank), but it's hard to say the Musketeers will have a better resume than either of those teams come Selection Sunday.

It's also going to be fascinating to watch where teams like Memphis, all the Mountain West teams that don't get the automatic NCAA bid, and Saint Mary's ends up. For now I have a number of those teams in the NCAA Tournament, but there is a long way to go.

Last NCAA At-Larges: Kansas St., USC, Saint Mary's, Texas, Providence, TCU, San Diego St., New Mexico

NIT Bracket (Protected Seeds in Bold, Bubble Teams in Italics):

1. Texas Tech (Big 12 1)
8. Minnesota
4. Mississippi
5. Washington
3. N.C. State (ACC 2)
6. Missouri
2. Michigan (Big Ten 1)
7. Saint Joseph's

1. Oregon (Pac-12 1)
8. Nevada
4. Xavier (Big East 1)
5. Iowa
3. Butler (Big East 2)
6. Duquesne
2. Indiana
7. Drake

1. South Carolina (SEC 2)
8. St. Bonaventure
4. UCF (Big 12 2)
5. Rutgers
3. Arkansas (SEC 1)
6. Maryland
2. Virginia Tech (ACC 1)
7. Seton Hall

1. Nebraska (Big Ten 2)
8. Georgia
4. Washington St.
5. Boise St.
3. UCLA (Pac-12 2)
6. Utah St.
2. St. John's
7. Syracuse

Also Considered: George Mason, Boston College, VCU, Appalachian St., Louisiana Tech, North Texas, SMU, Richmond, San Francisco, Florida St., Tulane, Wichita St., Bradley, Missouri St., Southern Illinois, Loyola Marymount, Yale, Hawaii, Drexel, Kent St.

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