NIT 2013: Top Reasons Why You Must Watch Second-Tier Tournament

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2013

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 15:  Jordan McRae #52 of the Tennessee Volunteers has his head in his hands in the final minute of the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the quarterfinals of the SEC Baketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena on March 15, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee.  Alabama won 58-48. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Let's be honest with ourselves—the National Invitation Tournament, or NIT for short, is often ignored by most fans in favor of the NCAA tournament, which generally soaks up all of the March Madness buzz there was to go around.

But that doesn't mean you should ignore the NIT. Far from it.

While I won't try to convince you the quality of play will be better or the superstars more plentiful, there are still plenty of reasons to watch the NIT.

Below, you'll find a few (admittedly non-conventional) reasons the NIT deserves your attention, especially if you don't have a team you support in the field.

You've Heard of Kentucky, Right?

The NIT actually has a ton of traditional basketball powers or teams that have been relevant in recent years, so you'll at least have heard of the teams you are watching. That's always a plus.

Along with Kentucky—who probably would have ended up making the NCAA tournament had star freshman Nerlens Noel not been lost for the year with a knee injury on February 12; Kentucky went 4-5 down the stretch without him—the NIT includes Stanford, Maryland, Virginia, St. John's, Iowa, Tennessee, Alabama, Iowa and Baylor.

If nothing else, following the NIT will allow you to tease that Kentucky fan you know who constantly boasts about the how amazing the Wildcats are. That alone makes this tourney worth watching, right?

It's What the Sports Hipsters Do

Are you a fan of European soccer but purposefully picked a team that regularly sits in the relegation zone, just to be original? Do you prefer rugby to football, cricket to baseball and actually seek out ultimate frisbee tournaments on fringe sports networks? 
Is Brian Scalabrine your favorite athlete of all time?

Then you, my friend, are probably a sports hipster, and the NIT is right up your alley.

While all of your friends will be worrying about their NCAA tournament brackets, accomplishing nothing at work on Thursday or Friday, you will be enjoying the NIT without any level of stress.

The NIT is like watching old horror films. Sure, they're not really all that scary or of the highest quality, but they're entertaining for that very reason. Go against the grain, folks—watch the NIT.

Detroit's Doug Anderson Throws It Down!

You should probably watch Detroit play, just in case Doug Anderson throws down a huge jam. If the NIT is traditionally the Los Angeles Clippers to the NCAA tournament's Los Angeles Lakers—well, perhaps that analogy doesn't work quite as well this year, but whatever—Anderson is definitely DeAndre Jordan.


There Are Two Teams That Beat Duke in the NIT, So There's That

If you love hating Duke—and it's pretty much a rule that you have to hate Duke as a college basketball fan, unless you went there or are one of those fans that also roots for the New York Yankees, Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Lakers—then the NIT has you covered.

In Region 3 is Maryland, which beat Duke twice this year—the second time knocking the Blue Devils out of the ACC tournament and ensuring they wouldn't be a No. 1 seed. 

And then there is Virginia, the No. 1 seed in Region 4. Be careful going all in on Virginia, however; the Cavaliers have some head-scratching losses this season to teams like George Mason, Delaware, Old Dominion, Wake Forest and Clemson, so they'll probably break your hearts.


More interested in that other March college basketball tournament? Don't forget to print out your bracket and follow along with the live bracket, and make your picks for the 2013 NCAA tournament here with the Bracket Challenge Game.


Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets are busting brackets and beating the buzzer all week long.

Follow TRappaRT on Twitter