NIT Tournament 2014: Schedule, Predictions, Seeds and More

Tim KeeneyContributor IMarch 17, 2014

MEMPHIS, TN - MARCH 13: Crandall Head #13 of the SMU Mustangs looks on dejected against the Houston Cougars during the quarterfinal round of the American Athletic Conference Tournament at FedExForum on March 13, 2014 in Memphis, Tennessee. Houston defeated SMU 68-64. (Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images)
Joe Murphy/Getty Images

Don't forget about the NIT. 

The Big Dance rightfully commands most of the country's attention for the next month, but with the immense parity that is flowing through the sport, you're still going to be treated to some scintillating basketball in this secondary tournament. 

Let's take a look at everything you need to know. 



ESPNU gives us a look at the complete bracket:

You can also find a link to the bracket here, courtesy of CBS Sports. 



A full schedule of every game can be found here, courtesy of Sporting News. 



Green Bay and Utah Surprise out of Regions 3 and 4

Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

Utah was never really in the conversation as a bubble team, but many might not realize just how close the Utes came to cracking the NCAA tournament. 

Larry Krystkowiak's squad finished the season 9-9 in the Pac-12, a strong conference that received six bids. But of those nine losses, seven came by four points or fewer, and the eighth came by just nine on the road against No. 1 seed Arizona. 

The Salt Lake Tribune's Tony Jones noted just how close the Utes were to the Big Dance:

Now, there's certainly something to say for Utah not being able to close out games, but the mere fact they were within striking distance in every contest except for one (a 14-point loss at UCLA) suggests this team is far better than it gets credit for. 

As a No. 5 seed, the Utes are likely going to have to make it to the semifinals with three road wins, but they certainly have the talent. Delon Wright is a versatile studit wouldn't be a stretch to call him the best player in the tournament—and Jordan Loveridge and Brandon Taylor provide nice secondary punches on offense. 

Ranked 36th in Ken Pomeroy's efficiency rankings, third overall among NIT teams, the Utes are going to make a run to Madison Square Garden. 

As for Green Bay, the Phoenix were the Horizon League's best team for most of the year before slipping in the conference tournament. They boast a talented and unique inside-outside punch in Keifer Sykes and Alec Brown and beat No. 1 seed Virginia earlier in the season. 

Per Sports Illustrated's Brian Hamilton, they were one of the first four out:

A likely matchup with St. John's at Madison Square Garden in the second round isn't easy, but the Johnnies struggled down the stretch, and Green Bay can take this region. 


Florida State Advances out of Region 4

Gerry Broome/Associated Press

We'll stick with chalk here. 

Inside the ACC, Florida State didn't exactly do anything special, but don't forget this is a team that handled VCU with ease, lost to Michigan by two in overtime, and lost to Florida by one in Gainesville. 

The Seminoles are balanced on offense, play efficient, hard-nosed defense and don't have too many dangerous road blocks in their region—you know, assuming they are able to get past Dunk City 2.0 in the first round. 

Moreover, Leonard Hamilton's team's immense size—especially with 7-footer Boris Bojanovsky playing well—is difficult to deal with in a tournament setting, and that will be enough to advance to the Final Four. 


SMU Wins it All

Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

SMU was snubbed from the NCAA tournament.

There were certainly some flaws to the Mustangs' resume—a loss to South Florida, an ugly nonconference strength of schedule—but most believed they were still set to make the Big Dance. They certainly had the talent and top wins (four victories over top-50 opponents) of a tournament team. 

"I feel bad for our team and you fans," head coach Larry Brown said after Selection Sunday, via ESPN's Richard Durrett. "I feel like we let you all down."

The Mustangs sometimes struggle to score, but with guys like Sterling Brown, Nic Moore and Markus Kennedy, they are tremendous on the defensive side of the ball. 

Even without the extra motivation, SMU would be a good bet to run through this tournament. But now that they feel disrespected, that extra fuel will certainly propel them to a championship in New York.