The NIT tournament has come to be known as the so-called "second-tier" college basketball tournament, but don't tell that to the 16 teams that have moved on to the second round in the 2013 version of this event.
Those teams have scrapped and clawed their way to being one step closer to New York City, Madison Square Garden and a berth in the 2013 NIT Final Four.
Like the big tournament scheduled to fully kick off on Friday, the 2013 NIT has been full of surprises already, including a No. 1 (Kentucky) and two No. 2 (Tennessee and UMass) seeds going home on the first day.
Whether you're a fan of the NIT or not, there's not a doubt in the world that there is good basketball left to be played from the kids that didn't make it to the NCAA tournament. That showed during the first round on Tuesday and Wednesday and will likely show through again as the NIT marches closer to the Big Apple.
In case you missed it, here's a look at all the scores from the first round of the NIT, complete with the best performances from teams that are clearly hungry to avenge their exclusion from big-time March Madness play.
Full First-Round NIT Scores
No. 2 Maryland 86, No. 7 Niagara 70
No. 5 St. John's 63, No. 4 Saint Joseph's 61
No. 5 Louisiana Tech 71, No. 4 Florida State 66
No. 8 Robert Morris 59, No. 1 Kentucky 57
No. 1 Alabama 62, No. 8 Northeastern 43
No. 1 Virginia 67, No. 8 Norfolk State 56
No. 3 Denver 61, No. 6 Ohio 57
No. 3 BYU 90, No. 6 Washington 79
No. 4 Stanford 58, No. 5 Stephen F. Austin 57
No. 3 Iowa 68, No. 6 Indiana State 52
No. 4 Providence 75, No. 5 Charlotte 66
No. 7 Stony Brook 71, No. 2 Massachusetts
No. 7 Mercer 75, No. 2 Tennessee 67
No. 2 Baylor 112, No. 7 Long Beach State 66
No. 1 Southern Miss 78, No. 8 Charleston Southern 71
No. 3 Arizona State 83, No. 6 Detroit 68
Most Impressive Performances
Baylor took the cake as the most impressive team in the tournament on Wednesday.
Head coach Scott Drew tweaked the lineup to include California native Gary Franklin (who works out with Long Beach State players in the summer time), and it payed off as Franklin scored 11 points and dished out six assists while senior guard Pierre Jackson started the game on the bench.
All the Bears did was put up 112 points with their new starting lineup.
You read that right—112.
Led by Brady Heslip's eight three-pointers and 26 points, Drew's team had seven guys score in double figures. Baylor also poured in 16 three-pointers and shot an unconscious 63.5 percent from the floor—matched only by the 69.6 percent the team shot from deep.
After being one of the last bubble teams eliminated from contention in the NCAA tournament, Baylor made sure the selection committee second-guessed themselves with this win on Wednesday night. It's bittersweet for both fans and the Bears, because of the impressive nature of the win and the thoughts of what could have been this season.
If you would have told me Louisiana Tech would roll into Florida State and overcome a nine-point second-half deficit to beat the Seminoles before this game was played, I would have called you crazy.
That's exactly what the Bulldogs did on Tuesday night, using 27 points from sophomore Raheem Appleby and another 16 from freshman Alex Hamilton to down the 'Noles in the opening round of the tournament, forcing careless turnovers and out-rebounding Florida State in the process.
After a disappointing exit from the WAC tournament (an event the Bulldogs had a chance to win to make the NCAA tournament), this game was a bit of a revenge game for Louisiana Tech, especially after seeing its tournament hopes dashed over the weekend.
The Bulldogs made senior Michael Snaer's last game in front of a home crowd one he'll likely want to forget, even though the clutchest player in the ACC had 24 points and did everything he could to keep playing in the NIT.
Matched up with No. 1 Southern Mississippi in the second round, Louisiana Tech could be a sleeper pick to win the whole thing by the end of April.
The Bears and the Colonials have something in common after the first round of the 2013 NIT: They both beat top seeds hailing from the vaunted SEC.
Well, maybe vaunted is a poor word, but both Mercer and Robert Morris sent Tennessee and Kentucky home early, raising questions about the level of focus from both amid missing out on the NCAA tournament during Sunday's selection process.
Kentucky had to travel to Robert Morris because Rupp Arena is being used for the second round of the NCAA tournament and looked sloppy and careless throughout the game on Tuesday. Freshmen Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein all have major decisions to make about the NBA, and this game could be a precursor to returning.
Hats off to the Colonials for coming right out of the gate and wanting it more.
Mercer, the Atlantic Sun runners-up to NCAA tournament No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast, continue to thrive under pressure this season. They have a win over top-seeded Alabama (on the road, no less) earlier this season and played Georgia and New Mexico relatively close in losses.
The Bears came out and took it to the Volunteers, like the Colonials, opening up a six-point halftime lead and maintaining it over the course of the second half behind 25 points from guard Travis Smith.
The NIT is all about teams who want to prove they don't belong there. Tennessee and Kentucky had no interest in carrying that burden, while the hungry Robert Morris and Mercer squads did. Motivated opponents or not, these two teams deserve a lot of credit for showing no hesitation when punching a bigger opponent in the mouth from the tip.
I had given up a little bit on BYU, particularly because it looked somewhat plain in losses to Gonzaga earlier this season.
I'm a man that can admit when I'm wrong, because BYU has a good chance to breeze through the rest of this tournament and wind up in New York City at the Final Four.
Who knows, maybe Mitt Romney will make an appearance if that happens.
In any event, the Cougars' best two players had things going on Tuesday night. Brandon Davies and Tyler Haws combined for 57 points, and Matt Carlino added another 20 as the Cougars put up 90 points on the visiting Washington Huskies.
With Tennessee out of the picture in that section and the shots already falling for BYU, this is the kind of game that could spark this team to the Final Four. It certainly deserves a mention on the most impressive performances of the opening two days of action.
Things are underway in the 2013 NIT and appear to only be getter better by the hour. You don't wanna miss the final 16 teams battle it out for NIT supremacy.
Thursday, March 21—No. 3 Denver at No. 2 Maryland
Friday, March 22—No. 3 Arizona State at No. 2 Baylor
Friday, March 22—No. 7 Stony Brook at No. 3 Iowa
Saturday, March 23—No. 4 Stanford at No. 1 Alabama
Sunday, March 24—No. 5 St. John's at No. 1 Virginia
Monday, March 25—No. 8 Robert Morris at No. 4 Providence
Monday, March 25—No. 7 Mercer at No. 3 BYU
Monday, March 25—No. 5 Louisiana Tech at No. 1 Southern Miss
For a complete look at the 2013 NIT tournament bracket, check out NCAA.com's printable version. For dates, times and television information, refer to the listings on the actual bracket and information from the NCAA official website.
NCAA Tournament fans: Stay up-to-date with March Madness by following along with the live tournament bracket, and by printing out a PDF of this year's draw. Follow all the exciting NCAA Tournament action with March Madness Live.
Information from NCAA.com was used to compile this report.