NIT 2017: Complete Bracket, 1st-Round Schedule and Teams to Watch

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistMarch 13, 2017

SYRACUSE, NY - FEBRUARY 22:  Andrew White III #3 of the Syracuse Orange runs downcourt during the first half against the Duke Blue Devils on February 22, 2017 at The Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York. Syracuse upsets Duke 78-75.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

While most of Selection Sunday's attention landed on the field of 68 for the NCAA tournament, a different committee unveiled the 2017 NIT bracket.

Like March Madness, the NIT has a group of automatic qualifiers. Any program that wins its regular-season championship but both loses in the conference tournament and is not selected as an at-large NCAA tourney team is invited to the NIT.

Though missing the preeminent tournament is disappointing, the consolation prize still brings more basketball.

In each of the first round, second round and quarterfinals, higher-ranked seeds (with one exception) will host their matchup. The semifinals (Region 1 vs. 2; Region 3 vs. 4) and championship take place at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

2017 NIT Seeding
SeedRegion 1Region 2Region 3Region 4
1SyracuseCalIllinois StateIowa
2GeorgiaHoustonIllinoisClemson
3IndianaBYUUtahAlabama
4MonmouthColorado StateUCFTCU
5Ole MissCharlestonColoradoFresno State
6Georgia TechUT-ArlingtonBoise StateRichmond
7BelmontAkronValparaisoOakland
8UNC-GreensboroCal-BakersfieldUC IrvineSouth Dakota
NCAA.com

Below is the first-round schedule.

2017 NIT Schedule
DateTime (ET)TeamTeam
Region 1
Tuesday, Mar. 147 p.m.No. 1 SyracuseNo. 8 UNC-Greensboro
Tuesday, Mar. 147 p.m.No. 4 MonmouthNo. 5 Ole Miss
Tuesday, Mar. 149 p.m.No. 3 IndianaNo. 6 Georgia Tech
Wednesday, Mar. 157 p.m.No. 2 GeorgiaNo. 7 Belmont
Region 2
Tuesday, Mar. 1411:15 p.m.No. 1 CalNo. 8 CSU-Bakersfield
Tuesday, Mar. 149 p.m.No. 4 Colorado StateNo. 5 Charleston
Wednesday, Mar. 159 p.m.No. 3 BYUNo. 6 UT-Arlington
Wednesday, Mar. 157:30 p.m.No. 2 HoustonNo. 7 Akron
Region 3
Wednesday, Mar. 159:30 p.m.No. 1 Illinois StateNo. 8 UC-Irvine
Wednesday, Mar. 157 p.m.No. 4 UCFNo. 5 Colorado
Tuesday, Mar. 1410 p.m.No. 3 UtahNo. 6 Boise State
Tuesday, Mar. 147:15 p.m.No. 2 IllinoisNo. 7 Valparaiso
Region 4
Wednesday, Mar. 157 p.m.No. 1 IowaNo. 8 South Dakota
Wednesday, Mar. 158 p.m.No. 4 TCUNo. 5 Fresno State
Tuesday, Mar. 149:15 p.m.No. 3 AlabamaNo. 6 Richmond
Tuesday, Mar. 148 p.m.No. 2 ClemsonNo. 7 Oakland
ESPN

Note: TV and streaming listings are available on NCAA.com.

Teams to Watch

Syracuse Orange

One year after being gifted a place in the NCAA tournament, Syracuse (18-14) felt the other side of Selection Sunday.

Despite six victories over RPI top-50 teams, Jim Boeheim's team missed an at-large bid due to five bad losses, a weak nonconference schedule and an awful record away from home.

As expected, Boeheim was upset about missing March Madness. Chris Vannini of Coaching Search noted (and debunked) Boeheim's disappointment after the news:

If there is a bright side for the program, it's that the Orange won't be forced to leave upstate New York until the semifinals should they win three straight games. They posted an 8-1 record at home during ACC action, though five victories came against conference teams that didn't make the NCAA tournament.

But those are exactly the type of opponents Syracuse will face in the NIT. As long as the Orange are mentally checked in, they're the clear favorite here.

Sidenote: The first-round matchup is hilarious. Boeheim took a shot at the City of Greensboro during the ACC tournament. Now, the Orange play UNC-Greensboro.

Indiana Hoosiers

After edging both Kansas and North Carolina early in the season, it seemed unfathomable Tom Crean's club would miss March Madness. But then, injuries and losses piled up.

Indiana (18-15) played a top-heavy nonconference schedule, so a pair of shortcomings against Louisville and Butler at neutral sites weren't a problem. However, the Hoosiers fell at Fort Wayne and consistently stumbled opposite the Big Ten's best.

Against the league's RPI top-50 teams, Indiana mustered a 1-10 record. The only win came against No. 50 Northwestern. Fortunately for the Hoosiers, they went 14-3 against sub-top-100 opponents. First up is Georgia Tech, which checks in at No. 106.

The Hoosiers will be the only higher-seeded program to not host the opening-round NIT game. Jeff Rabjohns of Peegs.com notes it's because the school is on spring break:

But even without potential first-round NBA draft pick OG Anunoby, Indiana still has plenty of talent with James Blackmon Jr., Robert Johnson and Thomas Bryant.

With a win over Georgia Tech and then either Georgia or Belmont, the Hoosiers could meet Syracuse in the Region 1 final.

Clemson Tigers

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 07: Jaron Blossomgame #5 of the Clemson Tigers goes up for a dunk against the North Carolina State Wolfpack during the ACC Basketball Tournament at Barclays Center on March 7, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
Lance King/Getty Images

Located on the opposite side of the bracket, Clemson (17-15) put together a regular season full of impressive "almost wins."

Yes, that's exactly why the Tigers aren't headed to the Big Dance. Nevertheless, they lost to North Carolina by three, Duke by two, Florida State by two, Virginia by three, Notre Dame by five, Miami by six and Virginia Tech twice by once.

Against teams that reached the NCAA tourney, Clemson finished with a 4-12 record. Otherwise, Brad Brownell's team notched a 13-3 mark, including three wins against NIT programs.

Jaron Blossomgame, who leads the Tigers at 17.5 points per game, will be one of the toughest players to defend in the tournament. If Blossomgame plays up to his potential, it's the biggest reason the Tigers can end a season of "almost" with an NIT title.


Follow Bleacher Report Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.

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