2021 NIT to Feature 16-Team Field; Tournament to Be Held in Dallas-Fort Worth

Jenna CiccotelliAnalyst IIMarch 2, 2021

Players chairs are covered with NIT logos during the an NIT Tournament second round game between Minnesota and St. Mary's, Sunday, March 23, 2014, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)
Paul Battaglia/Associated Press

The 2021 National Invitation Tournament will go on, but not without some major changes.

On Monday, the NCAA announced that the upcoming men's basketball edition of the NIT will feature just 16 teams, and all games will be held in the Dallas-Fort Worth area amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

The NIT committee will reveal the teams and pairings for the tournament March 14 at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU. 

"The decision to conduct the NIT in one geographic location was made with the interests of having a safe and healthy environment for all participants," read the release.

In 2019—the 82nd and last NIT, since 2020's edition was canceled because of COVID-19—the tournament featured 32 teams that were separated into four regions, with automatic invitations extended to teams that won its conference's regular-season championship but didn't receive a bid to the NCAA tournament. 

The first two rounds and the quarterfinals were held at campus sites before the semifinals and final at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

In this year's tournament, there will be no automatic qualifiers among the 16 teams. 

This year's field will see games played at two venues, with Conference USA and the University of North Texas serving as the hosts. Games will be held at the Comerica Center in Frisco and the UNT Coliseum at the North Texas campus in Denton, though specific venues and schedules have not been finalized yet. 

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The first round will begin March 17, leading up to the semifinals and championship March 27-28. For the first time since 2003, there will be a third-place game. 

All 16 games will air on ESPN or ESPN2.