The NIT will look plenty different in 2021, with just 16 teams instead of the usual 32, and no guaranteed spot for regular season conference champions. But it’s still a worthy prize for teams that wish to participate in the oldest continuous college basketball trophy awarded, and also a chance for additional practice time and competition for teams looking to prepare early for 2021-22.
The biggest change is instead of the first three rounds being played on campuses, the entire event will also be played at two facilities in the Metroplex; the Comerica Center in Frisco, Texas and the University of North Texas Coliseum in Denton, Texas will host all 15 games. There will be no Madison Square Garden for the event for the first time since 1938.
Because we’re in the middle of a global pandemic and some teams won’t want to participate, it’s tough to know which teams will actually make the flight to Dallas. But here’s who we think will be the first invited. Let’s hope they still send a gift even if they choose not to go to the ceremony, as it’s just impolite to not do so.
Here are some of the teams that will be under consideration for an NIT bid assuming they get left out of the NCAA Tournament.
NIT No. 1 seeds OR Standby Teams for NCAA Tournament
2. Colorado State
3. Saint Louis
4. Ole Miss
Potential 2 seeds
These are teams we feel pretty comfortable saying will get a bid to the NIT they can either choose to accept or reject.
Saint Louis, Boise State, Xavier, Memphis, Seton Hall
* We’d add Duke in here, but they don’t seem likely to accept a bid.
Potential 3 or 4 seeds
These are teams that may or may not be offered a bid, but have a resume worthy of postseason play. It might depend on who says yes and who says no in front of them.
Western Kentucky, North Carolina State, St. John’s, Belmont, Indiana, Louisiana Tech, Saint Mary’s, Toledo
The full NIT bracket for 2021 will be revealed on Sunday, March 14 at 8:30 p.m. on ESPNU.