NIT 2015: Full Bracket and Teams to Watch in Loaded Field

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 16, 2015

Feb 4, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Temple Owls guard Will Cummings (2) and Temple Owls guard Josh Brown (1) against the South Florida Bulls during the second half at USF Sun Dome. Temple Owls defeated the South Florida Bulls 61-48. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

Every team in the National Invitation Tournament wishes it were in the Big Dance, but there is some serious talent throughout the field for college basketball fans to enjoy.

Between major-conference programs trying to prove they deserved a shot at the NCAA tournament and small schools showing they are as good as the big boys, the entire event is certain to be competitive. For people who can't get enough college basketball, this is a perfect fix.

The full 32-team field is full of intriguing teams, but here is a look at the top teams you want to watch.

Note: For a better view of the bracket, go to NCAA.com.

Temple

Mar 13, 2015; Hartford, CT, USA; Temple Owls guard Will Cummings (2) works the ball against Memphis Tigers guard Markel Crawford (1) in the second half during the quarterfinal round of the American Conference Tournament at XL Center. Temple defeated Memph
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Every year, there are teams that complain about being snubbed from the NCAA tournament, but few squads have as big of a gripe as Temple this season. The Owls fared well against top opponents and clearly deserved a spot in the field over some that eventually got a bid.

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Many following along seemed to agree:

Temple succeeds thanks to a great defense that ranks No. 12 in the nation in efficiency, according to KenPom.com. Jaylen Bond and Will Cummings play great on-ball defense and find ways to frustrate everyone who lines up against them.

Although the offense has been a bit inconsistent this year, Cummings and Quenton DeCosey know how to get into the lane and finish at the rim. Considering this squad beat Kansas by 25 points this season, it's clear there is a lot of talent on the roster.

As the No. 1 overall seed in the NIT, the Owls will get a chance to show what it can do in this tournament.

Murray State

Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

Based on resume alone, Murray State didn't really deserve any consideration for the NCAA tournament. The squad played few teams of substance this season and lost handily to both Xavier and Valparaiso.

Still, head coach Steve Prohm explained why it's not always about numbers in a column for Sporting News:

The eye-test: You’ve got to sit down at some point and say, “Neutral floor, who are you taking?” I think a lot of people would lean toward Murray. We can’t just look solely or mainly at numbers. If football did that, would Ohio State have had an opportunity to win a national championship, and would anyone know the name Cardale Jones?

It's difficult to watch Murray State and not believe it would have been able to win a few games in the NCAA tournament. Cameron Payne is one of the most talented point guards in the nation at any level, and he leads an offense that simply knows how to score.

The 25-game winning streak during the year also shows the ability to win games in any circumstance. While it won't quite be in the national spotlight, the NIT will give the Racers a chance to prove their ability.

Louisiana Tech

Jan 8, 2015; El Paso, TX, USA; Louisiana Tech Bulldogs guard Kenneth Smith (4) dribbles the ball against the UTEP Miners at the Don Haskins Center. The Bulldogs defeated the Miners 58-45. Mandatory Credit: Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports
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Unlike the previous teams, Louisiana Tech didn't really come close to an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. The squad lost games it shouldn't have and had few truly head-turning wins.

As the regular-season champs of Conference USA, the Bulldogs could have earned the automatic bid by winning the tournament but still fell short.

However, this team still has the talent to make a run in the NIT. Raheem Appleby and Alex Hamilton each average over 15 points per game, but the real catalyst is point guard Kenneth "Speedy" Smith. The senior averages an incredible 7.3 assists per game to lead the high-powered offense while also consistently making great plays on the defensive end.

Few players in the nation can impact a game as much as he can, despite averaging only 6.1 points per game.

Don't be surprised if the No. 3 seed finally gets it going and makes a deep run in this tournament.

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter. If it's March, I'm talking about pretty much nothing but college basketball.

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