There has been a lot of consternation on social media about teams getting snubbed from the NIT, and some leagues only getting one or two teams in the postseason, such as the CAA and Missouri Valley. The WNIT (the women’s version of the NIT) has expanded to 64 teams, and includes an automatic bid from each league. In men’s basketball, instead we have pay to play tournaments like the CBI and CIT, which have smaller fields (16 and 20 teams) and many teams don’t want to pay the expense to host.
In my solution, the NIT would be 64 teams, with every conference getting their own automatic bid. We had 12 automatic bids in a 32 team tournament this year, with the first 4 out taking up four more spots. That’s half of the field right there. Teams such as Northeastern, East Tennessee State, and others were snubbed from the postseason because they did not want to play in a “pay to play” tournament.
Under my solution, the tournament’s Final Four would still be held, either at MSG or in the city where the Final Four is held (in a properly sized arena). It would be held on the Friday and Sunday of the Final Four weekend. You would have two semifinals on Friday night, and a finals on Sunday afternoon, leading into the Women’s National Championship that night.
We would start with 32 first round games on Tuesday and Wednesday before the First Round of the NCAAs, 16 each day. Some of the games could be placed earlier in the day to get better TV exposure. The next four days would contain 16 NIT games, spread around the days to provide more opportunities around the NCAAs. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of the next week would be the round of 16. Over the next weekend (Elite 8 weekend, Sweet 16 for the women), the 4 quarterfinals would occur. This would provide for a minimum of four days of rest for the four semifinal teams,
Expanding the tourney would also give more opportunities for teams in the postseason, and allow 32 more teams to enjoy being in one of the big postseason tournaments, which is not the case currently. At least 16 more teams would get to host a postseason game, providing revenue and exposure for the school.
Some of these teams are already in the CBI or CIT, but the NIT would provide more opportunities and greater exposure. One or both of these tournaments could still exist as a chance for smaller schools to go to postseason.
Here would be the automatic bids to the 64-team NIT. They would be determined by conference record. The best regular season conference record would get in, otherwise, it would be overall record.
American: Tulsa (19-12)
America East: Vermont (27-7, already in NIT)
Atlantic Sun: FGCU (23-11, already in)
ACC: Louisville (20-13, already in)
A-10: Saint Joseph’s (16-16)
Big 12: Baylor (18-14, already in)
Big Ten: Nebraska (22-10, already in)
Big East: Marquette (19-13, already in)
Big Sky: Idaho (22-9)
Big South: UNCA (21-12, already in)
Big West: UC Davis (22-10)
CAA: Northeastern (23-10)
C-USA: Middle Tennessee (24-7, already in)
Horizon: Northern Kentucky (22-9, already in)
Ivy: Harvard (18-13, already in)
MAC: Toledo (23-11)
MAAC: Rider (22-9, already in)
MEAC: Hampton (19-15, already in)
Mountain West: Boise State (23-8, already in)
MVC: Southern Illinois (20-13)
NEC: Wagner (23-9, already in)
OVC: Belmont (24-9)
Pac 12: USC (23-11, already in)
Patriot: Colgate (19-13)
SEC: Georgia (18-15)
SoCon: ETSU (25-9)
Southland: SLU (22-11, already in)
SWAC: Prairie View A&M (16-18)
Summit: South Dakota (26-8)
Sun Belt: Louisiana (26-8, already in)
WAC: Utah Valley (22-10)
WCC: Saint Mary’s (28-5, already in)
Bids for teams that know they aren’t on the NCAA bubble could be put into place before the NCAA selection show. Also, it would provide more incentive for teams in conference tournaments, as overall record would matter in who gets these bids. No team with a losing record would get in unless they were an automatic bid.
And here are the teams that would be in this year, mostly sorted and seeded by KenPom, others by RPI.