NIT 2020: Eligible Teams, Tournament Format and Schedule

Jake RillSenior Analyst IIMarch 10, 2020

Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes talks to forward Drew Pember (3) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Memphis Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
Wade Payne/Associated Press

Every team dreams of cutting down the nets and hoisting a national title as confetti rains down at the end of March Madness, but only 68 teams will reach the NCAA tournament and have a chance of attaining that goal.

The rest will have to wait at least another year, although exclusion from March Madness doesn't necessarily end their season.

Next week, 32 teams will open this year's National Invitation Tournament, giving those schools the opportunity to play for a title to end the season. Any team that won a regular-season championship in its conference but gets left out of March Madness gets an automatic bid, which will be the case for some mid-major schools.

The rest of the field is determined after the NCAA tournament bracket is set.

Here's everything you need to know for this year's NIT.


2020 NIT Schedule

March 17-18

First round at higher seed's campus


March 19-23

Second round at higher seed's campus


March 24-25

Quarterfinals at higher seed's campus


March 31

Semifinals at Madison Square Garden


April 2

Championship at Madison Square Garden


Potential Teams

It's difficult to project the NIT field ahead of conference championship week, as the bubble teams for the NCAA tournament continue to change as we get closer to Selection Sunday.

After that, though, it will be clear which teams are out of March Madness and could be open to considering an invite for the NIT.

Some teams have already made it known they would be willing to accept an offer if they are not involved in March Madness.

Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes recently said his team "no doubt" would play in the NIT.

"I think this team needs to play as much as we possibly can," he said, according to Mike Wilson of the Knoxville News Sentinel.

Last year, the Vols reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament to cap an impressive season. They've struggled more this year, though, as they're the No. 8 seed in the SEC tournament after going 9-9 in conference play. Unless they win the conference tourney, they'll likely be left out of March Madness.

Northern Iowa could also be heading to the NIT after its surprising loss to Drake in the quarterfinals of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament. The Panthers were the No. 1 seed, but their resume might not be impressive enough to get them an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament.

As a regular-season conference champion, Northern Iowa would automatically be invited to the NIT if the NCAA tournament selection committee leaves it out of March Madness.

Another regular-season conference champion likely heading to the NIT is Radford, which was the No. 1 seed in the Big South tournament but lost to Hampton in the semifinals.

With more conference tournaments unfolding this week, the projected NIT field will continue to develop. But the inclusion of one or two bubble teams in March Madness could greatly change that on Selection Sunday.