Monday, February 12, 2024

NIT Bracketology, Feb. 12

Well, it finally happened. I had to pull a team from outside of my NIT bracket post-selection because of the automatic bid rules. In case you missed it, the top two teams in NET after the NCAA Selection from each of the Power Six conferences (those Power Five in football plus the Big East) receive an automatic bid.

Since it's near impossible to predict how NET will change, because it's dependent on things like margin, I make the somewhat bold assumption that it'll stay entirely static to the end of the season and use today's NET rankings (which the NCAA publishes every morning), to form my bracket.

When I got to the end of the NIT selection process today I thought I basically had four teams for three spots. I looked through the profiles of UNLV, Maryland, Florida St. and Charlotte to determine which I would leave out. Until I went to do the automatic bids at the top of the bracket and realized that LSU was 94th in NET and Georgia, which I had towards the bottom of the bracket but in, was 95th. This meant the Tigers received an automatic bid and you'll see them on the 4 seed line. Florida State was the team that was left out due to the change. The Seminoles have a bunch of Quad I and II wins, including over UNLV, but they also lost to Georgia and Louisville (!) this season. It's a perplexing profile to say the least.

Also, welcome Rutgers to the projected NIT bracket. The Scarlet Knights have won their last three games, including a road win at Maryland and a convincing home victory over Wisconsin on Saturday. Those wins were enough to push Steve Pikiell's team into the bracket. Rutgers has a bunch more opportunities, but if the Knights get to 17-14 overall before the Big Ten Tournament I would expect to see them in the NIT. (Definitely not a given, but now completely plausible.) They're safer than the implied 8 seed they have in this bracket, which happened due to bracketing rules (see below).

The inclusion of Rutgers means that three conferences: the Big East, ACC and Big Ten make up a large portion of this projection, which made bracketing much more difficult. As conference play continues, and conference tournaments happen, I think that number will dwindle slightly? It will definitely be something to watch moving forward.

Last 8 in NCAA Tournament: Gonzaga, Boise St., Northwestern, Nevada, Cincinnati, Butler, St. John's, Utah

NIT Bracket (automatic bids in bold, bubble in italics):

1. Colorado (Pac-12 1)
4. UCF (Big 12 1)
U. Miami FL
3. SMU
U. Ohio St.
2. Oregon (Pac-12 2)
U. San Francisco

1. Villanova (Big East 1)
U. Rutgers
4. Pittsburgh (ACC 1)
U. Princeton
3. Memphis
U. Georgia
2. Kansas St. (Big 12 2)
U. Minnesota

1. Xavier (Big East 2)
U. Syracuse
4. Iowa (Big Ten 2)
U. Drake
3. Seton Hall
U. N.C. State
2. Nebraska (Big Ten 1)
U. Washington

1. Providence
U. Indiana
4. LSU (SEC 2)
U. James Madison
3. Virginia Tech (ACC 2)
U. Richmond
2. Mississippi (SEC 1)
U. Maryland

Seriously Considered: Florida St., Charlotte, VCU, St. Bonaventure, North Texas, Bradley
Next Tier: Boston College, Stanford, George Mason, Cornell
Probably CBI Bound: Duquesne, South Florida, UAB, Southern Illinois, Santa Clara, Liberty, UCLA, Loyola Chicago, Massachusetts, Saint Joseph's

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