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How would you fix the NIT? A Tournament Preview and Potluck

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With Nebraska and Penn State carrying the Big Ten banner into the NIT, can they overcome tough seeding and disappointment from not making the Tourney? We preview that, what we’d fix about the NIT, and offer our predictions.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Purdue vs Penn State
No, Pat, you got a four-seed.
Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

Behold, the bracket:

With that decided, though, we want to get our writers’ opinions on just how jazzed they are for the only tournament I can be bothered to care about this year, because I’m bitter and none of this was fun like I was promised it would be.

(1) The Nebraska Cornhuskers have a real reason to be disappointed with their five seed in the NIT, given their 13-5 record in the Big Ten. Can they overcome this disappointment and slide past a Mississippi State Bulldogs team that, at least in statistical profile, is very similar to them? What’s your pick?

BRT: Nebraska has not played incredibly well away from PBA this season, and obviously has to be disappointed by the shitty way the Powers That Be treated them. That said, I’m an optimist when it comes to basketball (I don’t know why either), and I’m hoping the conference’s most surprising team will rally and kick some SEC ass.

Boilerman31: Miles has to use this as motivation. The Huskers have a right to be pissed (even in the NIT). Play angry and good shit happens. I’ll take Nebraska.

Jesse: So there was one of those super secret practices before the season and that super secret practice scrimmage was against Mississippi State and Nebraska won that super secret scrimmage. I’m taking that as a good omen. We will now lose by 13. I hate basketball.

Aaron: Yeah, Nebraska racked up a lot of wins in the Big Ten, but only three of those came against teams in the KenPom top 50. The Huskers also played one of the worst non-conference schedules in the country. Still, I think they should be seeded above Mississippi State, a team that also played a sad non-conference slate while failing to achieve anything as shiny as Nebraska’s win over Michigan. I’ll take the Huskers to grind out a tough win on the road.

Stew: UNL has been great at home, this game is not there. Looking at a few different rating systems, these look to be pretty close teams, and I think where it’s played makes the difference. I’ll take the bulldogs.

Beez: They have to play a road game? Ugh. MSU wins, sadly.

Poll

How far does Nebraska go?

This poll is closed

  • 35%
    Loses to Mississippi State
    (11 votes)
  • 16%
    Second-round
    (5 votes)
  • 9%
    Quarterfinalists
    (3 votes)
  • 9%
    Back to MSG! Huskers fall in the semis.
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Finalists! Huskers fall in the title game.
    (0 votes)
  • 29%
    GO BIG RED BABY I HAVE NO IDEA HOW THE NIT WORKS BUT NEBRASKA WINS WOOOOO
    (9 votes)
31 votes total Vote Now

(2) Earlier Wednesday night the Penn State Nittany Lions will play host to the Temple Owls. By Kenpom’s measure, this one that shouldn’t be particularly close, as the Owls grade out to be, essentially, Northwestern. The struggle from the field, and while they play good defense and take care of the ball, Tony Carr and Mike Watkins should be enough to carry the day for the Big Ten hosts. Give us your thoughts and a pick.

BRT: Penn State should win this easily. If they don’t, well, that would be amusing. :)

Boilerman31: Give me the under...on crowd size. Penn State wins going away.

Jesse: This is one of those games that just feels forced. Penn State! Temple! CAN YOU FEEL THE PENNSYLVANIA VIBES! I actually think that a good defense can be really annoying for Penn State in that they play really muddy games themselves and aren’t exactly ‘light the world on fire’ offensively. I’m curious how Watkins is feeling, and if he’s healthy, that should be enough. Still, this game has all the trappings of an awfully entertaining, “WHY ARE WE DOING THIS” basketball game. Give me the Nits by 7.

Aaron: Mike Watkins will probably sit this game out, but Penn State should still win because Tony Carr is super great and Temple is not. The Owls are only in this tournament because they scored victories over Auburn and Clemson before Thanksgiving. The only noteworthy thing they’ve done since is beat Wichita State in overtime, and not even that could save them from finishing 8-10 in a league that features such dreck as South Florida and East Carolina. Base on Penn State’s last two NIT appearances, it should get a decent crowd at the Bryce Jordan Center for this one, and that will help the Lions win handily.

Stew: I’ll take PSU as Carr and company find a way to get buckets, whereas Temple does not.

Beez: PSU/Carr can and will go far in this tournament and will win this game. They beat some real teams this year.

Poll

How far does Penn State go in the NIT?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    Good thing they’ve got experience losing to Temple...
    (3 votes)
  • 18%
    Notre Dame proves too much for the Nittany Lions.
    (6 votes)
  • 24%
    Quarterfinalists, falling just short.
    (8 votes)
  • 24%
    Semifinalists—a loss to Louisville or MTSU, perhaps.
    (8 votes)
  • 9%
    Finalists!
    (3 votes)
  • 15%
    ;LIJDSAFHOEWIQUFHIUVASD WE ARE
    (5 votes)
33 votes total Vote Now

(3) With this abysmal showing for the Big Ten in both the NCAAT and NIT, we’ve seen all-important Twitter allegations that the NIT serves its XII/SEC interests when seeding. Your thoughts?

BRT: Probably it’s just that it’s 2018, everything is terrible, and we live in a world without justice.

Boilerman31: Something something something Full Body of Work. Something something something RPI. Blech.

Jesse: Look, I have already complained more than enough, but I don’t think it’s actually bias for/against a conference necessarily. The bottom line is that there was an over-reliance on how you rate a conference, that reliance caused a ranking of conferences, and somehow the NCAA - which is not a monopoly but owns the NIT and gets profits from the top 100 teams in a postseason tournament - figures out how to not explain it clearly and just throws teams on lines.

That said, we can say “down year” by Kentucky and KU, but they both won their tournaments and seem to be decent enough teams. The final tournament will sort of validate these results I guess, but we all can agree that we will still be rooting for any of these teams over Virginia, right?

Aaron: This is one of the worst conspiracy theories ever. What exactly is the motive behind propping up certain conferences in a tournament that nobody save for the saps in this thread is going to watch? I’m sure giving Michigan a No. 3 seed was just a cover-up for screwing over Nebraska and giving SEC powerhouse Mississippi State an extra home game.

Stew: The B1G is just shit this year. Still better than the Pac 12, though.

Beez: There were Big XII teams that didn’t make the tournament? I figured if you only won 8 conference games and still made it in, you must have been at the bottom of the league.

(4) Perhaps the most important question: How would you fix the NIT?

BRT: I’m a complainer, not a fixer.

Boilerman31: I dunno, throw all the teams into a lottery style draw. Two teams enter, one team leaves.

Jesse:

1) DO NOT DO RANDOM RULES CHANGES DURING THIS TOURNAMENT. It’s weird.

2) Perhaps - perhaps - you actually have some transparency in the process. Many bracketologists did great in the NCAA format because honestly, it’s pretty straight forward. Know who did awful at the NIT? Everyone.

3) Don’t hire Barry Collier for anything

4) DO NOT HIRE BARRY EFFING COLLIER

Aaron: Give the winner a chance to play its way into the NCAA Tournament.

baba: The NIT should pay the schools way more money than the NCAA can. Then they can get a lot of the tournament teams to flip to the NIT. I would like to see a NIT/NCAA bidding war.

Stew: I kinda love trying out new rules in the NIT, it’s a good playground for that kind of thing. I do love the auto bids for teams that won the regular season conference titles, but didn’t get into the NCAA Tourney. I also like the home court aspect for the first few rounds. As for picking teams and seedings? It’s the NIT, meh, don’t suck as much.

Beez: I have no memory of watching or caring about the result of an NIT game, let alone the seeding, but then I didn’t really start following Wisconsin sports until 2002. I have no suggestions except maybe incorporate a skills competition for determining Sweet Sixteen winners.

Poll

How would YOU fix the NIT?

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    MORE RULE CHANGES
    (3 votes)
  • 1%
    FEWER RULE CHANGES
    (1 vote)
  • 1%
    SOMETHING ABOUT SEEDING
    (1 vote)
  • 1%
    SOMETHING ABOUT REGIONS
    (1 vote)
  • 15%
    MAKE IT A PLAY-IN
    (8 votes)
  • 1%
    CAPITALISM IS THE ANSWER
    (1 vote)
  • 7%
    COMMUNISM IS THE ANSWER
    (4 votes)
  • 28%
    The issue is that a two-party, first-past-the-post system fails to account for the diversity of American political opinions and effectively leads to the polarization of the American electorate.
    (15 votes)
  • 35%
    the fuck is happening why am i reading an NIT preview
    (19 votes)
53 votes total Vote Now

(5) Give us your picks: How far do the Huskers and Nittany Lions go? Any surprise upsets? Who wins the NIT?

BRT: PSU gets knocked out by Notre Dame, bringing shame to the conference. Nebrasketball wins the whole thing. ;)

Boilerman31: Sorry, there’s a real tournament I’m already missing due to work travel. Best of luck, Nit and Nebbys.

Jesse: Nebraska gets to the Final Four, Penn State gets to the Elite 8. Nobody remembers any of this actually happened.

Aaron: Penn State loses to Notre Dame in the second round, while Nebraska is eliminated by Louisville in the quarterfinals. Saint Mary’s wins the darn thing. As for upsets, No. 7 seed UC Davis could upend Utah. I can also easily see three of the No. 6 seeds winning their first-round games. The exception is stupid Rider, the team that beat Penn State at the Jordan Center in December.

baba: Nebraska loses on the first round because that’s what generally happens in these situations. Penn State loses in the third round.

Stew: UNL gets bounced by the bulldogs in round 1. PSU misses out on a trip to New York by losing to either Oregon or Marquette. I think St. Mary’s and MTSU are the best teams in the field, and both got royally screwed by the big tourney snubs.

Beez: Nebby loses in the first round, Penn State makes it one game further than their seed would suggest.

MNW: Here’s the only place I care enough to contribute, I guess... Give me Nebraska to make a little run and raise some questions, keeping Mississippi State in check and holding Baylor to an awful night from the floor before falling to the superior talent that both Middle Tennessee and Louisville bring to that section of the bracket. I’ll take the Cardinals out of there, because everything is awful.

In the USC bracket, I’m inclined to take the 2-seed Oklahoma State Cowboys. The ‘Pokes should’ve been in the NCAA Tournament over Trae Young and Oklahoma, but life is what it is. They’re better than USC, and Stanford-BYU is an underwhelming second-rounder for them to get to the quarterfinals.

Out West, it is once again a joke that LSU got a three-seed while Nebraska and Penn State are shafted a line lower. I hope the Cajuns beat the shit out of ‘em. Utah can hang with its efficient offense and slow-em-down pace, but...nah, it’s the Saint Mary’s Gaels, who will beat the Utes at their own game.

Finally...what a rough draw for Penn State. They’ll get by Temple because the Owls are not that good (especially for a five-seed), but the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are much too talented. If Penn State makes it a shootout, though, they could surprise. I like chalk here, a Notre Dame-Marquette quarterfinal after the Golden Eagles win a shootout with the Oregon Ducks in the 2-3. And, of course, in a battle of who’s a better Catholic, Jesuits win. MY Marquette Golden Eagles (yeah, I got a piece of paper from there, sue me) advance to MSG.

In the NIT semis and finals, give me Marquette over Louisville and Oklahoma State over Saint Mary’s, with the ‘Pokes taking the title in the Garden.


1800+ words on the NIT. You’re welcome, world. Vote in the polls, and give us your picks in the comments!

Poll

Who wins the NIT?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    Nebraska
    (8 votes)
  • 19%
    Penn State
    (11 votes)
  • 0%
    Notre Dame
    (0 votes)
  • 7%
    Marquette WOO RING OUT AHOYA
    (4 votes)
  • 5%
    Middle Tennessee
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Lhvl
    (0 votes)
  • 14%
    St. Mary’s
    (8 votes)
  • 1%
    USC
    (1 vote)
  • 8%
    Oklahoma State
    (5 votes)
  • 1%
    Other (I will tell you in the comments)
    (1 vote)
  • 26%
    Other (I am exhausted/enraged by this poll and will not tell you in the comments)
    (15 votes)
56 votes total Vote Now