For some teams that weren't lucky enough to hear their names called for the NCAA tournament on Selection Sunday, there's always the 2014 NIT.
Teams like SMU and Minnesota were snubbed from the NCAA tournament, and winning the NIT would represent the perfect revenge. If nothing else, it should at least prove that they were deserving of a spot in the Big Dance.
The field of 32 teams will compete for a title that will not be defended by last year's champion, Baylor, who earned a No. 6 seed in the NCAA tournament. There are several teams with strong chances of winning the postseason tournament, and the competition will be fierce through the tournament's final game.
Here's all you need to know about the 2014 NIT.
When: March 18 through April 3
Live Stream: ESPN3
|Date, Time (ET)||Round||Channel||Date, Time (ET)||Round||Channel|
|Tuesday, March 18||Thursday, March 20|
|7 p.m.||First Round||ESPNU||TBA||Second Round||TBA|
|7 p.m.||First Round||ESPN2||Friday, March 21|
|7:30 p.m.||First Round||ESPN||9:30 p.m.||Second Round||ESPNU|
|9 p.m.||First Round||ESPNU||Saturday, March 22|
|9 p.m.||First Round||ESPN2||11 a.m.||Second Round||ESPN|
|9:30 p.m.||First Round||ESPN||Sunday, March 23|
|11 p.m.||First Round||ESPN2||11 a.m.||Second Round||ESPN|
|TBA||First Round||ESPN3||5 p.m.||Second Round||ESPNU|
|TBA||First Round||ESPN3||Monday, March 24|
|7 p.m.||Second Round||ESPN||7 p.m.||Second Round||ESPN|
|Wednesday, March 19||9 p.m.||Second Round||ESPN|
|7 p.m.||First Round||ESPN2||11:30 p.m.||Second Round||ESPN2|
|8 p.m.||First Round||ESPNU||Tuesday, March 25|
|9 p.m.||First Round||ESPN2||7 p.m.||Quarterfinal||ESPN|
|10 p.m.||First Round||ESPNU||9 p.m.||Quarterfinal||ESPN|
|TBA||First Round||ESPN3||Wednesday, March 26|
|TBA||First Round||ESPN3||7 p.m.||Quarterfinal||ESPN2|
|TBA||First Round||ESPN3||9 p.m.||Quarterfinal||ESPN2|
|Tuesday, April 1|
|Thursday, April 3|
Teams to Watch
The SMU Mustangs were snubbed from the NCAA tournament, but that shouldn't stop them from performing well in the NIT.
Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com provided a statement from head coach Larry Brown regarding the upsetting result: "When things don't go exactly how you planned, you can either pack it in or you can find a way to do better," Brown said. "We need to use this as a way to get better."
Losing the final three games of the regular season likely did the Mustangs in, but they finished 23-9 with an RPI of 53. They defeated four ranked teams and earned 12 conference victories. The list of accolades for this team goes on and on.
When compared to the rest of the field of the NIT, SMU clearly has the edge.
Leading scorer Nic Moore will play a huge role in his team's trek to the title. The sophomore shot 44.7 percent from deep and dropped 13.7 points per game this season. His ability to hit consistently from three will keep his team in games.
For the sixth straight season, Arkansas has missed the NCAA tournament, yet the NIT will offer the Razorbacks the chance to continue what has been a pretty good season.
They were 21-11, but losses to Alabama and South Carolina in their previous two games really hurt their chances. The selection committee appeared to have chosen teams based on both longevity and the ability to close out seasons.
Robbie Neiswanger of the Arkansas News Bureau received this statement from guard Ky Madden after the loss to the Gamecocks:
"Whatever is next for the taking, we’ll take it. Whatever it is — if it’s the NCAA or the NIT — we’ve got to come out and win. We need to win the whole thing."
Madden will ensure that his Razorbacks stay focused in the NIT—even if it wasn't the tournament they had their sights set on playing in. Madden's 12.7 points per game paced the Razorbacks this season.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers earned a No. 1 seed in the NIT after failing to make the NCAA tournament. Amelia Rayno of the Star Tribune points out that it really isn't surprising that they missed the Big Dance:
The Gophers finished 8-10 in the Big Ten and won their opening-round matchup against Penn State in the conference tournament on Thursday. They had managed just two wins against teams in the top 50 of college basketball’s RPI, and burned by the collapses of teams of several teams they had beaten: Florida State, Richmond and Iowa. And the Gophers had won just two very unimpressive league games on the road, at Northwestern and Penn State.
That being said, Minnesota is a very good team. Relative to the rest of the NIT competition, the Golden Gophers are balanced and have a legitimate shot to contend. Though they aren't necessarily strong shooting from distance, if they can distribute the ball effectively, they have demonstrated the ability to create and convert open shots.
They'll play High Point in the opening round, and that will just be the start of their smooth sailing deep into the tournament.
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