NIT 2018: Bracket, Schedule and Tournament's Top Teams Heading into Round 2

Maurice Bobb@@ReeseReportFeatured ColumnistMarch 15, 2018

LAHAINA, HI - NOVEMBER 21:  TJ Gibbs #10 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish dribbles the ball by Tremont Waters #3 of the LSU Tigers during a semifinal college basketball game at the Maui Invitational at the Lahaina Civic Center on November 21, 2017 in Lahaina, Hawaii.  The Fighting Irish won 92-53.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

For every men's college basketball team in the country, getting the call to go dancing in the NCAA tournament is the ultimate goal.

Unfortunately, though, Selection Sunday can be extremely salty for schools that don't get the nod.

There are always bubble teams that have their NCAA hopes burst and surprising snubs that should have made it but didn't.

For those teams, playing in the NIT is the next best thing.

Luckily for fans, there are some competitive teams in the consolation bracket this year.

And now that the first round of action is complete, teams will really step it up in their chase to win the crown.

Last year's winner, TCU, made the big dance, so this year's title is up for grabs, and it's up to teams like Notre Dame, St. Mary's and USC to cut down the nets.

NIT Second-Round Schedule

All times ET.

Saturday, March 17

Game 1 | Notre Dame (1) vs. Penn St. (4) | 12 p.m., ESPN

Sunday, March 18

Game 2 | Baylor (1) vs. Mississippi St. (4) | 12 p.m., ESPN

Game 3 | Oregon (3) vs. Marquette (2) | 4:30 p.m., ESPN2

Game 4 | Middle Tenn. (2) vs. Louisville (2) | 6:30 p.m., ESPN2

Monday, March 19

Game 5 | Stanford (3) vs. Oklahoma St. (2) | 7 p.m., ESPNU

Game 6 | LSU (3) vs. Utah (2) | 9 p.m., ESPNU

Game 7 | Saint Mary's (1) vs. Washington (5) | 11 p.m., ESPNU

Game 8 | Southern California (1) vs. Western Ky. (4) | 11:30 p.m., ESPN2

Full bracket available here.

Rules Changes

Per NCAA.com, these are the four rules modifications for the NIT:

"The three-point line will be extended by approximately 1 foot 8 inches to the same distance used by FIBA for international competition (22 feet 1.75 inches). The free throw lane will be widened from 12 feet to 16 feet, consistent with the width used by the NBA. The games will be divided into four 10-minute quarters as opposed to two 20-minute halves. Teams will shoot two free throws beginning with the fifth foul of each quarter. The shot clock will reset to 20 seconds after an offensive rebound instead of the full 30 seconds."

Notre Dame

SOUTH BEND, IN - FEBRUARY 28: TJ Gibbs Jr. #10 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish drives to the basket against Shamiel Stevenson #23 of the Pittsburgh Panthers at Purcell Pavilion on February 28, 2018 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty I
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Selection Sunday left a pretty sour taste in the mouths of Notre Dame.

This is the first time in four years that the Irish have not made the NCAA tournament.

Back in November, Notre Dame was flying high, ranked in the AP Poll's top five. But things fell apart when they lost Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell to injuries.

The Irish fell to an 8-10 conference record in their absence, putting them on the bubble and, subsequently, out of March Madness.

But Colson and Farrell are back in action now, and Notre Dame are the favorites to win it all in the NIT, according to William Hill oddsmakers.

Led by Martinas Geben's 18 points and TJ Gibbs Jr.'s 17, the Irish cruised past Hampton 84-63 in the NIT opener Tuesday night.

Mike Brey's squad runs a pretty potent offense, ranked No. 32 in adjusted offensive efficiency on KenPom at 115.6, so look for them to really space the floor and make a run until they're the last man standing.

      

Saint Mary's

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 05:  Jordan Ford #30 of the Saint Mary's Gaels drives against Jahshire Hardnett #0 of the Brigham Young Cougars during a semifinal game of the West Coast Conference basketball tournament at the Orleans Arena on March 5, 2018 in Las V
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

It's hard to fathom that there's a bigger snub this year than the Gaels.

They finished the regular season ranked No. 25 in the AP Poll, yet still managed to not make the selection committee's final bracket.

Sure, they lost big time in the West Coast Conference tournament to BYU, but they still should have made the cut with a stellar 16-2 record in conference play.

"Look at the season that Saint Mary's had," Middle Tennessee coach Kermit Davis told ESPN.com's Jeff Goodman. "They were in the top 20 a week ago. I think people would rather watch both of us in Dayton than two Power 5 teams that finished seventh or eighth in their leagues."

"One-hundred percent," added Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett. "Explain to me how the quadrant system is scored? There's a problem. I don't know why they do anything. I will tell you that they won't tell you how they keep score."

There's no question that Saint Mary's will take out all of their frustrations out on the NIT. 

They will bowl past their second round opponent Washington and show the rest of the field why they are the highest-ranked team in this tourney by Pomeroy.

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