The National Invitation Tournament (NIT) is set to revamp its selection process in 2024, according to an announcement by the NIT Board of Managers on Friday. The changes will eliminate automatic bids for conference regular-season champions who do not win their conference tournament or fail to secure a spot among the 68 teams selected for the men’s NCAA Tournament. Here is what you should know:
- Going forward, the NIT will ensure that two teams from each of the following six conferences (Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and Southeastern) are selected based on the NET rankings. The top two teams from each conference, regardless of their win-loss record, will be chosen if they do not participate in the NCAA Tournament.
- The selected 12 teams will have the opportunity to host a first-round game in the NIT.
- To complete the 32-team field, the NIT will select the 20 best available teams and assign four of them as first-round hosts, with priority given to the four teams on the NCAA Tournament bubble.
Changes to the rules
In addition to the revamped selection process, the NIT Board and NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee have agreed to implement experimental rules for the 2024 tournament. These rules include widening the free throw lane from 12 feet to 16 feet, aligning it with the dimensions used by the NBA and FIBA.
The tournament will also continue using the modified timeout format introduced last year for the second half of games. This format eliminates the second-half floating media timeout and replaces it with fixed media timeouts occurring at the first stoppage of play after the 17-, 14-, 8-, and 4-minute marks.
Impact on college basketball
The NIT’s decision to no longer guarantee spots for conference regular-season winners who fail to win their respective tournaments has raised concerns among mid-major schools. There is a fear that as power conferences expand their boundaries, smaller schools will be left behind. Some believe that expanding the NCAA Tournament could be necessary to prevent power conferences from opting out of the tournament altogether. There have even been discussions about creating a separate postseason tournament exclusively for the Power 6 conferences in Las Vegas.
Furthermore, the NIT’s new selection process appears to favor non-qualifying Power 6 teams, who already enjoy advantages such as greater financial resources, higher-profile opponents, and NIL opportunities. It is worth noting that teams finishing as low as 10th or 11th in their conference standings could potentially secure an NIT bid. For example, last season, Ohio State, with a record of 16-19, would have earned an NIT bid because they ranked highest in NET among Big Ten teams who didn’t make the NCAA Tournament.
It remains uncertain whether NIT champion North Texas, who boasted a higher NET ranking than Ohio State but lost in their conference tournament, would have made the NIT under the new selection process.
Concerns also arise considering that the NIT operates under the jurisdiction of the NCAA. While it may be premature to label this as a test for the NCAA Tournament, some level of concern is justified. — Dana O’Neil, college basketball senior writer
Reactions to the changes
“The landscape of postseason college basketball has become increasingly competitive for teams that do not qualify for March Madness,” said Dan Gavitt, NIT board chair and NCAA senior vice president of basketball. “The reformation of the selection process for the 2024 NIT is a necessary step in transforming this historic tournament into a dynamic event in the competitive sports market.”
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