While the 2013 NCAA tournament steals most of the college basketball spotlight, the NIT tournament is always an exciting addition to the March Madness schedule.
Just as the NCAA tourney has high-ranked teams that won’t make it far before being upset, the NIT is no different.
All of the following teams are on upset alert, and tough early-round matchups could lead to early upsets in the NIT tournament.
Check out the NIT bracket here.
When: March 19-April 4
Watch: All NIT games will be broadcast on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3
Live Stream: ESPN3.com
First Round and Second Round: March 19-25
*All games will be played at home court of highest-seeded teams (with the exception of Kentucky vs. Robert Morris).
Quarterfinals: March 26-27
*All games will be played at home court of highest-seeded teams
Final Four (Madison Square Garden): April 2
Championship Game (Madison Square Garden): April 4
No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 8 Robert Morris
No. 4 Providence vs. No. 5 Charlotte
No. 3 Arizona St. vs. No. 6 Detroit
No. 2 Baylor vs. No. 7 Long Beach State
No. 1 Southern Miss vs. No. 8 Charleston So.
No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 5 Louisiana Tech
No. 3 BYU vs. No. 6 Washington
No. 2 Tennessee vs. No. 7 Mercer
No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 8 Northeastern
No. 4 Stanford vs. No. 5 Stephen F. Austin
No. 3 Denver vs. No. 6 Ohio
No. 2 Maryland vs. No. 7 Niagara
No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 8 Norfolk St.
No. 4 Saint Joseph’s vs. No. 5 St. John’s
No. 3 Iowa vs. No. 6 Indiana St.
No. 2 Massachusetts vs. No. 7 Stony Brook
High-Ranked Teams on Upset Alert
No. 1: Kentucky Wildcats
The 21-11 Kentucky Wildcats just missed the NCAA tournament this year, but their No. 1 seed in the NIT is no guarantee that the team will do any serious damage.
Kentucky had a rough season and it only got worse when star Nerlens Noel went down injured (Sports Illustrated).
The lackluster play to end the season—including a 20-point loss to Vanderbilt in the SEC tournament—eliminated the Wildcats from NCAA contention and will ultimately cost the team the chance at NIT glory.
The three tough losses in four games coming into the Wildcats first-round matchup against Robert Morris will have Kentucky reeling. The underrated Colonials will shock the NIT and send Kentucky home early.
No. 1: Alabama Crimson Tide
The 21-12 Alabama Crimson Tide just missed out on the NCAA tournament.
But instead of being one of the favorites to win it all, a first-round matchup against the Northeastern Huskies may be an upset waiting to happen.
There is no denying the stellar play of Trevor Releford and the rest of the Crimson Tide, but four losses in the last seven games has Alabama on the ropes and in serious trouble.
Despite being the No. 8 seed against Alabama’s No. 1 seed, the Huskies are better in almost every major statistical category—points, rebounds and assists per game and field-goal percentage (ESPN)—and had an impressive 20-12 regular season record.
Add in the first-place finish in the Colonial Athletic Association and Northeastern is poised to stun the No. 1 Crimson Tide.
No. 1: Virginia Cavaliers
Despite having the No. 1 seed, the Virginia Cavaliers have been put on upset alert for their first-round matchup against the No. 8 Norfolk State Spartans.
The Cavaliers have been abysmal of late, though, losing three of the last four games and five of the last eight. If Virginia can’t solve their offensive woes—259th in the nation with just 64 points per game—Norfolk State will stun the No. 1 seed.
The Spartans suffered a tough loss in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament, but won their previous 15 games leading into that matchup.
If Norfolk State can regain that elite form, Virginia is in serious trouble.
Make your picks for the 2013 NCAA tournament here with the Bracket Challenge Game.